The F-35 Can't Carry Its Most Advanced Weapon Until 2022
Lockheed Martin’s F-35B variant has hit yet another snag which could seriously impact the aircraft’s overall ability to strike at ground targets.
Now, the fifth-generation aircraft will be unable to carry the military’s latest and most advanced munitions for awhile.
Due to a design oversight, the internal weapon’s bay of the F-35B is too small to carry the required load of the new Small Diameter Bomb II (SDB II), Inside Defense reports, citing the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office. The SDB II is a next-generation precision-strike bomb that was meant to dovetail with the F-35 program.
The F-35B was designed to carry eight SDB IIs inside the internal weapons bay. These bombs would allow the F-35 pilot to target eight points from 40 miles away and with complete precision. The SDB IIs can also change course in-flight to follow moving targets through laser or infrared guidance systems, according to Foxtrot Alpha.
However, the F-35B can only fit four of the required bombs in its weapons bay. The F-35B variant has a significantly smaller internal bay than the F-35A and F-35C due to the aircraft’s design as a short-takeoff-vertical-landing aircraft.
Inside Defense reports that the “Navy initially wanted to field the SDB II first on the F-35B/C but is instead bringing forward integration with the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The SDB II is an F-35 Block 4 software capability and the release of that software load has been pushed back to FY-22.”
In other words, because the SDB II is included with the weapon Block 4 upgrade for the F-35, the aircraft is now likely to not field the new munitions until 2022.
F-35 spokesman Joe DellaVedova confirmed to Inside Defense that the SDB II problem has been known since 2007 and the more difficult changes to the aircraft have already been made in order to allow it to field the munitions.
“We’ve been working with the SDB II program office and their contractors since 2007,” DellaVedova said. “The fit issues have been known and documented and there were larger and more substantial modifications needed to support SDB II that have already been incorporated into production F-35 aircraft.”
The F-35B variant is the Marine Corps model of the plane and 34 aircraft have already been delivered to the branch. The delay in implementing the SDB II will not affect the aircraft’s ability to fly but will limit the operations that the F-35B will be able to effectively carry out.
More from Business Insider:
- A Top US Navy Officer Thinks That One Of The F-35’s Most Hyped Capabilities Is ‘Overrated’
- The 12 Largest Man-Made Explosions In History
- Putin: We Have The Best Army In The World
- 9 Animated Maps That Will Change The Way You See The World
- China’s Military Budget Is Booming
This is how the Army Corps of Engineers is helping Puerto Rico
The Army Corps of Engineers is working to restore power to the island of Puerto Rico after four major hurricanes devastated these parts of the US.
This Marine is more operator than you'll ever be
One Marine isn't taking his life changing injury sitting down. In fact: he's running. Follow Marine Rob Jones as he runs 31 marathons in 31 days.
This is the agenda for Mattis' Indo-Asia-Pacific tour
Secretary of Defense Mattis is touring the Indo-Asia Pacific region to strengthen ties with ally countries and underscore our commitment to each of them.
This is the reason Russian and Western tactics are changing
Russia might be stepping up its War Games game, but the United States isn't having any issues keeping up. Even their Krasnodar can't get past us.
Here are the top conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy assassination
Ahead of the release of 3,100 documents pertaining to the Kennedy assassination, here the top assassination conspiracy theories people are talking about.
Air Force says no plan to recall retired pilots
The Air Force says it has no intentions of recalling retired pilots to address personnel shortages, though it appreciates the ability to do it if it wants to.
Here is how Burke-class destroyers will be able to zap incoming missiles
Burke-class destroyers, already packing a formidable punch, could add lasers, improving capabilities against UAVs, missiles, and even piloted aircraft.
11 'totally real' things you should send your boot to find
Sending the FNG out to find things isn't malicious. It may look like hazing — but you're teaching them a little bit more about the unit. Isn't that nice?
This is the new version of the pup tent
This is not your grandfather's pup tent. Litefighter has developed a complete shelter that troops can carry, weighing in just over four pounds.