Raytheon displayed a mock-up of the weapons bay of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) at the Paris Air Show on 19 June 2017 with an additional model outling possible future integration concepts.
The company featured a 50% scale model of the current weapons payload of the F-35 JSF, as well as a concept model which illustrated potential future munitions payloads for the air frame.
Describing the F-35 as the ‘highlight of the show’, company officials described a list of current and future configuration concepts designed to maximise the operational effect of the aircraft. Contemporary efforts include Raytheon’s Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM); AIM-9X SIDEWINDER short range air to air and surface to air missile; and PAVEWAY laser-guided bomb.
The future configuration of the weapons’ bay comprises the AGM-154 Joint Stand Off Weapon (JSOW) and Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) II, both of which are also manufactured by Raytheon; as well as the Joint Strike Munition (JSM) which has been designed specifically for the F-35 JSF in collaboration with Kongsberg.
Referring specifically to the development of SDB II, Raytheon officials explained how the munition continued to undergo ‘operational and development testing’ at present, with a total of 30 munition drops successfully conducted in the past eight months.
Additionally, officials explained how another ‘major step’ in the weapons’ configuration of the aircraft comprised wind tunnel testing for the F-35 aircraft in particular. A Raytheon spokesperson confirmed to MONS how such testing had now been completed.
A company statement, released at the air show, explained how a series of “high speed and rigorous” wind tunnel tests had taken the munition “one step closer” to integration on board the JSF .
Testing was conducted during the months of April and May using scale models of the munition and aircraft, with engineers testing lift, drag and side forces from different angles of attack. Analysis will be dissected over the coming months ahead of its projected deployment on board the JSF in 2022 and beyond.
The F-35 will be capable of carrying up to eight SDB II munitions on board its integrated weapons bay, Raytheon officials explained. The munition, which comprises a tri-mode seeker, uses millimetre wave radar, uncooled imaging infrared guide and semi-active laser guidance technologies to find targets.
“The weapon’s two way datalink gives pilots the ability to make in-flight target updates, providing pilots the ability to eliminate the same number of targets using fewer aircraft which reduces their time in threat areas and saves money,” a company spokesperson reiterated.
Additionally, Mike Jarretty, Air Warfare Systems Vice President at Raytheon, added: “Enemies use adverse weather conditions to travel because it helps them avoid detection. Whether they are in the rain, obscured by smoke or on the move, SDB II will find them.”