The F-35, with its combat configuration known as Beast Mode, deploys an impressive arsenal of up to 22,000 pounds (9,980 kg) in internal and external weapons. This modality is activated in scenarios of less conflict, where attack speed prevails over stealth.
Unique Features and Training of the F-35 in Beast Mode
The term “Beast Mode” was coined in a 2017 Lockheed Martin graphic, contrasting this configuration with stealth mode, where the F-35 equips itself with only internal weaponry to minimize its radar signature. This dual capability offers unprecedented tactical versatility on the battlefield.
Cargo Capacity of the F-35 in Beast Mode and Stealth Mode
In stealth mode, the F-35 can internally carry up to 5,700 pounds, while in Beast Mode, its capacity rises to 22,000 pounds of air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions. Mathew Harper, commander of the Royal Australian Air Force’s 35th Squadron, highlights that this configuration adapts perfectly to threat scenarios and operational needs, prioritizing rapid attack over stealth.
This mode is typically activated after air superiority is assured when radar detection is no longer a critical concern. The exact configuration of the arsenal depends on the specific mission and aircraft operator requirements. Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 970 F-35s to ten nations, each tailoring their missions to the fighter’s capabilities.
Beast Mode Training: Combat Preparation
Pilots learn to operate the F-35 in a configuration similar to what they will face in real combat situations. Cossette points out that the flight of the fighter, when loaded with six laser-guided bombs and missiles, is radically transformed, presenting a unique tactical challenge that strengthens the pilots’ skill.
F-35: A Flying Arsenal in Beast Mode
The F-35 in Beast Mode can carry ammunition via six external pylons on its wings and in its internal bay. Under normal conditions, internal loading is privileged to keep the radar signature low. In addition to its built-in cannon, the fighter has the capacity for four internal weapons, including air-to-air missiles and precision-guided bombs, configuring a true flying arsenal.