F-35 programme begins developing cyber-attack capability
Marina Malenic, Washington, DC - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
18 March 2015
An F-35A, at Edwards AFB, California, is pictured with the F-35 Systems Development and Demonstration Weapons Suite the aircraft is designed to carry. The F-35 can carry more than 1,600 kg of ordnance in low observable mode and over 8,200 kg uncontested. The programme is now preparing to add non-kinetic weapons such as an offensive cyber pod. Source: Edwards AFB
- The F-35 programme is developing a pod-mounted cyber-attack system
- The offensive system is in the "prototyping phase", according to the deputy programme manager
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter programme is developing a pod-mounted cyber-attack system as it continues kinetic weapons integration, the deputy programme executive officer said on 17 March.
"Industry is developing a pod that would not degrade the signature of the airplane," said Rear Admiral Randy Mahr at the Precision Strike Association conference in Springfield, Virginia. He told IHS Jane's that the offensive system was in the "prototyping phase" and was not being designed by F-35 prime contractor Lockheed Martin, but declined to name the developer.
Meanwhile, Rear Adm Mahr said, the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B-model of the aircraft would be able to accommodate the Raytheon GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II).
Some media reports have suggested that the weapon cannot be carried in the weapons bay of the F-35B - the smallest of the three variants - because the aircraft body contains a liftfan.
"SDB II will fit in the F-35B," Rear Adm Mahr said. "We have to move one hydraulic line and one wire bundle about a half-inch each to make it fit".
He noted that SDB II was still in development and would not even be ready for integration until Block IV of the F-35 programme was complete.