A new video apparently taken on November 28, 2018 shows an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter engaging five separate ground targets at once, including one that was allegedly traveling at over 40 miles per hour.
While details associated with the footage are sparse, the aircraft is clearly an F-35, and based on the live ordnance being used and background foliage, it seems likely that the video was taken at the Nevada Test and Training Range at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. That said, there are a number of other ranges in the American southwest, including Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, that would look similar and offer similar live ordnance capabilities.
Based on the number of bombs, the F-35 must have been carrying them externally, rather than inside its internal weapons bays. That offers some insight into the notional circumstances of the training exercises. During stealth operations, for which the F-35 is was designed, it maintains a number of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles within its internal weapons bay. The bay doors open to fire the weapons and then close again, in order to maintain the aircraft’s stealth profile.
This video, on the other hand, shows the F-35 dropping weapons from external hard points — something that would be expected of the multi-role fighter during combat operations over nations like Afghanistan, where enemy anti-air capabilities are limited. It would also be utilized in heavily contested regions after the enemy nation’s anti-air infrastructure had been destroyed by earlier sorties — which is why this “beast mode” loadout that includes up to 22,000 pounds of munition is often also referred to as a “third day of war” configuration.
The F-35 may rely heavily on its advanced stealth, but many see its sensor and target acquisition suite of electronics as the real advantage the F-35 brings to the table. Videos like this, showing five targets decimated simultaneously, speak directly to the broad capabilities allotted by the aircraft, though it’s important to note that performances during controlled tests like the one seen in this video do not necessarily equate to combat proficiency. Promising as the F-35 may be, only time will tell if it lives up to the hype.
Watch the video below:
*Editor’s Note: An error in the original piece refererred to the Paveway IV bombs as missiles.
Image courtesy of YouTube