Many people might be familiar with National Football League running back Marshawn Lynch, who is nicknamed “Beast Mode” for his powerful running style and ability to run over defenders and break tackles.
But in the military world, know that this particular moniker can also be used for a configuration on F-35 stealth fighters.
Although “Beast Mode”—also known as “Bomb Truck”—isn’t considered an official or even a technical term, the nickname does describe a situation in which extra weapons are carried inside the internal bay and the wing-mounted pylons of the aircraft.
According to military writer Peter Suciu, citing a previous report, he writes that the “F-35 is compatible with several weapon layouts to accommodate a wider range of tactical scenarios. The ‘First Day of War’ loadout, while in ‘stealth’ configuration, could consist of four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles for air-to-air missions, or a mixture of four AIM-120s/GBU-31 JDAM ‘smart bombs’ for air-to-ground missions, all of which would be loaded into the F-35’s internal armaments bay.”
He continues: “As the name implies, stealth loadouts are designed to minimize radar cross-section and to maintain low observability (LO) when the enemy’s anti-air systems are operating at full capacity. … However, as more hostile anti-air systems—including sensors, air defense missiles, gun systems and even enemy aircraft – are eliminated, and the conflict enters into the ‘Third Day of War,’ the loadout would change. When the F-35 no longer needs to rely on its stealth and LO for survivability, this is where the ‘beast mode’ comes into play.”
For years, Lockheed Martin has been working with the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop the Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) hypersonic missile.
As all of the F-35 variants come with underwing hardpoints, there is the capability to hang tons of missiles and bombs from the wings—though that could render the F-35’s radar stealth less effective.
“(It) would effectively eliminate (the F-35’s) stealth qualities,” reported Joe Trevithick at thedrive.com. “However, the speed and range of hypersonic weapons give them an intrinsic stand-off capability, making this a less pressing issue.”
It was mentioned that other warplanes could also be armed with HAWC.
“HAWC, or a maritime strike variant thereof, could just as easily be an option for other Navy fighter jets, such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, underscoring the reality that fighters will increasingly be carrying outsized stand-off weapons as time goes on,” Trevithick wrote.
“Larger platforms, such as the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, might find themselves carrying HAWC follow-on variants, too. An anti-ship variant could also find a home in the Air Force on that service’s B-1 or B-52 bombers, the former of which are already able to carry Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missile,” he added.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.