"This is their top-line, medium range precision strike weapon that is now capable of being integrated and is being integrated internally" on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Raytheon's senior manager for medium range strike weapons, Mark Borup, told Military.com on Tuesday.
By carrying the weapon internally, the aircraft can maintain stealth-mode while taking the weapon into a combat theater. As Military.com reports, the F-35C can only carry two of the massive weapons at once, a far cry from what Lockheed Martin has said about the aircraft.
As Sputnik reported in December, Lockheed touted that the F-35 could carry up to six 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs in addition to four air-to-air missiles. This plentiful missile configuration, however, which includes multiple externally mounted weapons and which Lockheed Martin has dubbed "beast mode," doesn't exist yet with any F-35 aircraft, and the Pentagon only has tentative plans to expand internal missile storage from four to six.
The Joint Standoff Weapon has been tested with the plane's Block 3F software systems, the Raytheon manager said. "It's all ready to go in the next phase," he said, perhaps referring to the multibillion dollar Block 4 system.
The F-35C is slated miss its 2018 initial operational capability (IOC) target as a result of delays with the Block 3F software. While the Raytheon exec said the weapon has been tested with the F-35C's Block 3F, US Navy officials have said that the DoD's initial test and evaluation process of Block 3F starts in September, and that the Block 3F holdup is what's keeping the aircraft from becoming a reliable jet for mission scenarios.