Pic of the Day: F-35B Shows Off its Gun Pod

Ever wondered what the stealthy-ish, bolt-on gun pod of the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter looked like?

Well, this great picture shows an F-35B rolling while armed with an inert AIM-9X Sidewinder missile on the outer wing pylon and the center gun pod housing a 25 mm GAU-22 cannon. The jet was also carrying a BGU-32 1,000-pound bomb and an AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) inside its weapons bay.

Remember, unlike the AIr Force’s F-35A, the B-model doesn’t have room for an internal cannon.

  • Mastro

    Seems a shame to put a heavy pod like that on it. Maybe a smaller Mauser-like canon would have been a better choice.

    Straffing seems like a lost tactic with a $200 million + plane.

    I wonder if the F35B will be mainly gun-free- the pod is just there to please the old fighter jockeys.

    • Moose

      Ask the Marines who’ve spent the last decade in ‘Stan: Guns are still great for CAS.

    • CWitt

      They said the same thing about the F-4 Phantom

  • miles

    Blame Boeing.

  • IronV

    At the risk of stating the obvious… can’t help but cringe at the stealthy shape with all that radar-bait hardware hanging off it…

  • Jason

    If the F-35B is going to be serving as a CAS platform then it definitely needs a gun pod.

  • What’s the point of putting a gun on it when it’s not maneuverable enough to dogfight with aircraft like a Sukhoi?

  • Chris

    Marine Air’s main objectives are to support lethernecks on the ground, and supplement blue water ops when necessary. A gun is a must. Just wish it was internal.

  • Michael

    It’s awesome that the F-35B is going to be able to carry a greater weapons load than the Harrier it is replacing. This thing looks awesome.

  • McPosterdoor

    Hoped they learned from Vietnam, the F4 was another (arguably) poorly thought out fighter and no internal gun installed. The gun pod was powered by a dropdown wind turbine, sometimes when slowly strafing the gun couldn’t power up.

    • blight_

      Interesting. The SUU-16 used the ram air turbine, and the SUU-25 used an “electric inertia starter” (I’m guessing a rotary solenoid?). Ram air turbine would probably work best at some speeds versus others, plus the drag penalty…

    • majr0d

      There were more reliable gun pods. Don’t count on Military Channel’s “Dogfights” for all your info. (Blight named some)

  • Kole

    I still think the F-35 is completely incapable of performing CAS. The stealth is a complete waste on a plane that is supposed to strafe tanks and AAA with flammable skin, thin, armor-less wings, and an external gun? LOL

    • citanon

      Are you seriously contending that a plane that can see targets with better than Apache clarity using its integral IRST (1 telescope and 6 DAS cameras), able to carry and drop 20+ independently targetable, moving target tracking SDBIIs from up to 60 miles away, and capable of communicating with every radio on the battlefield, is going to make a bad CAS platform?

      It will be a spectacular CAS platform. It will be able to stay at 20,000 ft and still get good CAS effects. It will just do things a little differently then the A-10.

      • Kole

        It will be a horrible CAS platform. CAS cannot be performed from 60 miles away, and this has been true of all wars to date. The reason the A-10 was/ is so successful is because it can not only engage from some (10 to 20) miles away, it can get down and STRAFE (nothing can jam the good old gun/ ARMOR). What happens when an F-35 cannot use missiles or bombs and soldiers on the ground need help? Are you saying the armor-less/ Flammable jet equipped with only a 20mm will go down and dirty? It won’t. The F-35 will do things differently than the A-10. It is a pure waste. If you want something to do that use a drone, not 358 billion of our tax dollars.

        • blight_

          I envision it replacing the OA-10, but not the A-10. Using the A-10 as an observer seemed rather silly anyways.

          Next up, OF/A-35B?

        • tiger

          Under current rules of engagement, You may not get any fixed wing CAS. As for the job of hunting tanks? That is what we still have Sea Corbra & Ah-64’s for. Yes the A-10 is nice. But it’s old, worn out from 10 years of combat & half the force is being retired. Time to move on.

  • bigguy97

    I love the look of the stealth skin. Reminds me of freshly oiled gun metal.

  • Tribulationtime

    Outer load points was a option from the begining of JSF program?.

  • Weaponhead

    Brilliant, spend $150-200M ea. to make stealthy CAS jets and then slap pylons/pods all over them.

    • Joey Serio

      My concerns as well! What a bunch of crap!

    • Curt

      I guess you missed the part about using external stores for when you don’t need to be stealthy.

      • blight_

        Yup. I guess we’re a generation away from stealthy hardpoints and missile casings. Perhaps something that blends into the shape of the aircraft, like conformal fuel tanks.

        Alternatively, they’re sitting in a warehouse somewhere waiting to be used (like the OBL stealth helicopter?)

  • Lance

    More prof that the B isn’t needed. Don’t want a F-4 like mistake with the B the gun is a always need weapon and I do think the Lighting looks cool with the pod on. I wonder if it make a whistle when flying like the F-4 did with the pod on??

  • Jimmy

    Even without a gun pod, the F-35’s stealth is compromised by its external AIM-9 missiles and launchers. Despite the emphasis on stealth, the designers nontheless never created enough internal space to fit all the F-35’s standard loadout of missiles. Dumb.

    • blight_

      There’s that fine line between wanting a reasonably compact aircraft for clean missions, and one big enough to carry everything internally.

      Perhaps what’s really called for is a scaled up heavy fighter that can carry large payloads internally. However, it would be niche application?

  • The great Jessmo

    Jimmy what are you talkign about? 6 AMRAAMs isnt enough?
    How many AMRAAM does the F-16 carry in a 600NM combat radius type of config?
    How many AMRAAM does the Av-8 carry in a 450 NM CR?
    How many does the T-50 carry in its internal bay?

    • Jimmy

      The F-35 is primarily an attack aircraft. When carrying its standard load of bombs it can only fit two AMRAAMS and zero AIM-9s in its internal bomb bay.

    • superraptor

      The T-50 can carry 10 AAMs internally versus 2 for the F-35.

      • majr0d

        I think you’re talking bombs not air to air missiles.

        Why are we comparing an air superiority fighter against the F35? The T50 is supposed to be the F22’s counterpart?

  • Where are you?

    Where is Black Owl’s “F-35-is-a-waste” tirade? Is he on holiday?

  • Nicky

    That decision to not put a gun on the F-35B is a haunting reminder of the earlier F-4’s when they didn’t have a Gun on board. It’s going to come back and Bite the US Navy in the Butt sooner or later. They should have included a Gun pod that the Marines use on the AV-8B II harriers

    • citanon

      Missile effectiveness in 2012 is in a different world compared to the 1960s.

    • Stormcharger

      Um… The GAU22 is the lighter weight, 4 barrel version of the GAU12 mounted on the Harrier AV8B’s. So, while technically it’s not exactly the same weapon, it’s not almost 40 years old either and is more accurate and uses the same ammunition.

      • Nicky

        Wouldn’t the GAU12 be prefect for the F-35B and C model.

    • UAVgeek

      It is basically the same gun. The GAU-22 is an evolution of the GAU-12 25mm gun that was developed for the AV-8B

  • Black Owl

    … I don’t think I even need to comment on this article. This is retarded.

    • blight_

      F-35B shows off its taxiing in this video…

    • Politically Correct

      Good nobody pays attention to your comments anyways. All you are is troll.

    • Tribulationtime

      Yes!! like wear night-digital camo and light a torch to see the path. Hahaha how many people blame India, and others about bribe-buying weapons. How a Brasshead can buy a F powerpoint; I mean What the demostrator showed, the paint finished?

  • PenguinMedic

    The “Gun” in some form will ALWAYS be a weapon of war. Missiles can be spoofed by any number of active & passive systems, hell the first Sidewinders couldn’t be fired towards the sun. They also are a very expensive waste against some targets. How does it make sense to kill a 20′ RIB with a 2 mil missile? It’s also kind of hard to “Fire a warning shot” with a missile, again at a few mil a pop. As for the “Lasers & diected energy weapons fanboys”, hope it’s not cloudy/raining/snowing when you want to fire your toy.
    The bottom line is this: Guns are proven, reliable, inexpensive, systems that have a solid kill record and can be used against ANY target just by pointing it at them. Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground, Air-to-Surface ship (or surfaced sub for that matter).
    Ask any Grunt on here that has spent time in the Suck & had an A-10 come in for CAS, I bet you’ll hear a lot of love for the “lowly” gun.

    • blight_

      Find it weird that the A-10 is the only standard that seems to come up when talking about gun fire support. But it won’t always be an A-10 on tap, now will it?

  • tee

    Well I hope at least the gun doesn’t depend on the” Visor” because if it does ? With a new report on the “Visor” problem and GAO’s findings on it and I quote ” the GAO report says “these shortfalls may lead to a helmet unable to fully meet warfighter requirements — unsuitable for flight tasks and weapons delivery, as well as creating an unmanageable pilot workload, and may place limitations on the [F-35’s] operational environment.”

    If you want to read the rest of the article it has even more “Scathing GAO” finding on the F-35, http://www.defense-aerospace.com/cgi-bin/client/m

    • Chuck

      Gun pod is fine, the f-35 will be multiple mission capable. This doesn’t mean that it will be all missions at all times. It will be planned. For CAS there will be little need for stealth so gun pod and external stores are okay. But unlike other planes they can quickly change the f35 to become stealth and attack strategic targets. On a wasp class lhd there will be 20 f35s. Plenty to fulfill strategic bombing, CAP and CAS. We have 10 real aircraft carriers and 10 LHD’s. We have effectively doubled our first day potential. And remember they integrate well with other f35s whether air force or navy, increasing force integration and awareness. Will this thing be as good as an a-10 at CAS? Absolutlely not, but it does do so many other things it’s hard to make that bargain. Although I love the A-10 and I hope we keep it as long as possible.

  • Tad

    Reminds me of turning a puppy upside down to see if its a boy or girl. I think it’s obvious which it is in this case.

  • retired462

    How many rounds does this pod hold?

  • Jim37F

    Didn’t the Air Force try to replace the A-10 in the 90s by placing an external 30mm gun pod on an F-16? I heard that the recoil made the pod vibrate so bad that they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Hopefully for Soldiers and Marines downrange depending on CAS, that isn’t the case here

  • LetsLobRob

    The F-35 just gets badder and badder.

  • Old Navy

    Add 5# of *hit to 25# of *hit and what do you get…a F35B.

  • TribulationTime

    Thumps up!! If like go with All New Futuristic Tech ElectricBike to race in Superbike championship. I know i am so funny!!

  • Belesari

    So basicly the F-35’s are all kind of like the LCS?

    99% of the time the stealth wont be called for. That 1% of the time it is needed it will have to meet a set of peramiters that will dictate if the aircraft is really viable and if they arent then its a no go or watch as half of the men sent die and lose 2bil+ of planes….

    • Belesari

      So its fine if,

      The planes are clean when that moment comes, this will make them Stealthish (note these aircraft are only LO in a narrow range. Not full stealth like the B-2 or F-22). If they arent things like those gun pods or anything will give them away.

      The opposing force has no EW birds or AWACS as the F-35 is a ninja apparently (no seriously listen to people describe this aircraft they act like its a ninja with missiles like magic swords-its helarious). If the enemy has these he can make leave the F-35 (or f22 for that matter) unable to fire missiles. So its a gun duel…..which the F-35 has a serious defeicency in compared to many other aircraft.

      Some how everyone on the planet fails to build the low tech radars that when combined with modern ones can detect basicly anything……..

      Oh yea forgot, high powered naval radars like the ones found on Missile cruisers and destroyers can pick up many LO aircraft even ours…..

      So basicly even if we did buy them all and they worked perfectly they are obsolete in less than a decade….

  • The great jessmo


    1.The T-50 carries 6 weapons internally. http://www.redstar.gr/Foto_red/Aircraft/PAKFA/T_5
    2. How is is that the F-16/F-18 which are less capable than the F-35 have provided CAS for years but suddenly the F-35 is impotent?
    3. How is it that a AV-8 provides decent CAS but a podded F-35 doesn’t?
    4. How is it that The F-117 provided good 1st day strike capability, but the F-35 cant?

    The plane does, the F-18,F-16, F-117, AV-8 all in 1 airframe. Its not a High end mach 1.8 super cruising fights its a stock fighter. But being on the low end of a high low mix did not stop the F-16 or the F-18 or the Av-8.

    All I’m asking is for a little more critical thinking. Less “dude bro and Lemming imitating and more reading for your self. thanks

    • Belesari

      Because it can provide good CAS..to fragile so its never going to drop down to the deck and get a real look or hit a damn thing with that gun….to fast.

      Its less manuverable than either F-18 or F-16. The F-18G growler has been able to spoof the F-22’s radar so as too force a dog fight which the F-18 was able to win or atleast go toe-toe with.

      You cant buy 4 F-18 Super Hornets for the price of a single F-35B (Which no one really knows what these planes cost BTW…they arent going down but ever up in price.

      I can keep going but i have things to do.

  • The great jessmo


    1.Because it can provide good CAS..to fragile so its never going to drop down to the deck and get a real look or hit a damn thing with that gun….to fast.

    Read more: http://live-defensetech.sites.thewpvalet.com/2012/06/22/pic-of-the-day-
    So let me understand your logic. The F-16 is more maneuverable and faster you say?
    But the F-16 does CAS fine. If being fast in CAS is a liability then by your logic the F-16 would be a failure.
    BTW you cant compare a clean F-16 to a combat loaded F-35. they are both clean but one is ready for war and the other isnt. try loading up the F-16 with 2 1kLB jdams 2 or 3 fuel tanks and 2 AMRAAMS and see how it compares with the clean F-35 then.

    Its less maneuverable than either F-18 or F-16. The F-18G growler has been able to spoof the F-22’s radar so as too force a dog fight which the F-18 was able to win or at-least go toe-toe with.
    You are aware that the F-35 will be qualified to 50 degrees angel of attack right? Can the F-16 sustain 50 degrees? Can they do it with a full strike load? Further more the F-18 that you speak of Broke the ROE. What does spoofing the F-22s radar have to do with anything any way? the F-22 has passive sensors

    You cant buy 4 F-18 Super Hornets for the price of a single F-35B (Which no one really knows what these planes cost BTW…they arent going down but ever up in price.

    Once the super hornet contract is up the price will grow substantially. That $60 million dollar price is in the contract. You seem to be under the delusion that you can add all of the F-35s goodies to the F-18 for a $60 million dollar price. I have a bridge in the Atlantic I would like to sell you.

    • tee

      I’d bet Boeing would do it just to pi$$ off LM :-)

  • Ralphie

    pew! pew! pew! Looks like something from half-life you can pick up off an alien corpse.

    pew! pew!

  • Gary Klemm

    i’ve a friend who works at the plant, as well as having followed the “paper trail” of this monkey plane. the “joint strike fighter program is an accountant’s wet dream. it’s a military man’s nightmare. it’ll do many jobs ok or even well, but do none of them exceptionally. if we are going to “control” the enemy from the air, we MUST be exceptional. the Israelis have A-10’s as CAS for a reason it’s the ABSOLUTE best plane for the job. the original F-16 was a SUPERIOR high altitude fighter/interceptor, etc,etc. making a aircraft do 30 jobs to satisfy a bean counter is crap. it WON’T do ANY of them exceptionally. i was a grunt. if it’s simple and don’t break, it’s good. if it’s complex and breaks a lot, it’s a paperweight. let’s get off the ”
    we wanna make ALL our defense buddies money” train, and build equipment that works, REGARDLESS of who makes it. anything else is just political pandering, and getting my buddies shot up for NO reason.

    • blight_

      “the Israelis have A-10’s as CAS for a reason”

      News to me

  • Will

    seems like some folks here know their stuff, just a retired engr USMC type, but i know how much the grunts value CAS and have had to fight to keep it in house…or keep USMC for that matter, it’s a Marine thing but mentallity is if you don’t leave garrison with it in your pack, you don’t have it (read as preserving USMC air), defense spending at issue since Ike’s comment “beware of the military-industrial complex” paraphrased

  • Bruce Vaccaro

    HEY! You guys quit badmouthing my F-35, K?? It’s the sweetest, quickest, stealthiest fighter around…nuff said!

  • Robert

    If your gonna keep an airplane around for ground support, upgrade the A-10 or build something new similar to it. It’s done great all these years. It’s nearly bullet proof and the pilots swear by it and trust it. And you definitely don’t need stealth if your gonna be flying low and slow for ground support anyways! Hello! A-10s don’t worry about being stealthy. They roll in there with that awesome sound of those turbo fan engines and the enemy takes off running. Some know that sound and know it doesn’t so much good to shoot at it. And it’s gonna rain hell on them any second! Lol.

  • Eric

    Didn’t anyone learn anything from the early model F4 Phantoms that did not have guns…

    • Jonesy

      That was 40yrs ago now Eric. You want to go WW1 red doggy with a guy who’s carrying a modern IIR dogfight missile?. Answer no…its immune to flares and is turning right angle corners.

      Get WVR (thats Within Visual Range) to a modern fighter and all bets are off. F-35, until it gets its DIRCM in block5, wants the air-fight beyond visual range where it has all the advantages of LO and situational awareness.

      For CAS you dont want to go lo-lo to strafe….look what happened to that Turk RF-4 when he got too low. Look at what happened to three Russian Sukhoi 25’s over Georgia (not to mention 1 Backfire!). CAS now is stay high…use the sensors…and drop SDB’s on anything that looks at you wrong. Run an A-10 in against todays SAM’s and they’ll be as dead as those Russian Su-25s.

  • Ken

    What’s the point of putting external stores on a stealth aircraft? Just asking

    • blight_

      You can jettison them in an emergency if you need to: or fire them all.

      Conversely, one would probably ask why JSF carries so little if it was internal stores only, like the F-117.

  • Jim from A1716A

    If a pop-up enemy aiircraft appears on your windscreen and you have your gun trigger on the “stick” just pull!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and make Gatling proud. If he’s too far away, use the missles. We’re probably long past 20 seconds to arm the missles and not as severely aspect-angle limited.

  • Ruben Garcia

    this pod only holds 225 rounds what good is that going to do

  • Lee G. Lewis

    ….duh…does not external anything defeat the whole purpose of stealth?..the first few we loose to fifty cals will produce some blank stares and tortured explanations…seems sort of dumb to me…but I am only a taxpayer…early F4 was the lesson: unlearned…