F-35 in "beast mode"F-35A in "beast mode" with one AIM-9X missile launcher and six 500-lb (227 kg) laser-guided UAB GBU-12s - four under the wings and two in the armament bay (AFB Luke, Arizona) :copyright: Senior Airman Alexander Cook / USAF
In stealth mode, the F-35A can carry up to 2.6 tons of load at four points of suspension in the internal weapons compartment. But if the situation allows neglecting low visibility and flight range, with an external suspension the maximum load increases to 10 tons. This option is called "Beast Mode".
Within the framework of the so-called "allied F-35 basic course" at Luke airbase in Arizona, seven F-35A aircraft, flight and ground personnel of the Norwegian Air Force, together with their colleagues from other countries, began to practice flights in "beast mode" in order to be ready for a significant change in the characteristics of the machine that have become familiar, especially during takeoff and landing.
The Norwegian pilots have not yet erased from the memory not the most pleasant memories when they urgently had to retrain. First, before the Afghan epic in 2002, the Danes rented Sniper suspended containers for target designation of the UAB, then in 2011, before the NATO Unified Protector operation in Libya, they borrowed ALQ-131 electronic warfare containers from the Dutch, and the simultaneous transition to the use of the AIM-120 UR was not very comfortable to say the least. Just before the flight to Souda in Crete, the pilots experienced for the first time how the air behavior of the F-16 with "three-meter Amraam telephone poles on the wingtips," as one of the participating pilots later described it, changed for the first time.