The Terma F35 Multi Mission Pod

The F35 still isn’t in full service and people want to hang stuff from it!

OK, only joking but the Terma F35 Multi Mission pod on display at Farnborough recently is an interesting product that could be used to house a number of different payloads with reduced impact on radar cross section etc.

If the UK buys the gun pod for the F35B it will be housed in a Terma designed, manufactured and qualified enclosure.

The Multi Mission Pod is a derivative of the gun pod that curiously, does not have anything inside, this being the point of course.

F35 Multi Mission Pod
F35 Multi Mission Pod

Customers will be able to integrate different payloads, large aperture electro optical sensors or electronic warfare equipment for example.

The F35’s electro optical sensors will be(is) impressive but the latest iteration of the Goodrich DB-110 as used in the RAF’s RAPTOR would turn the F35 into a very powerful recce system.

Other options might include jamming or SIGINT equipment.

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October 7, 2012 6:55 pm

“The F35’s electro optical sensors will be(is) impressive but the latest iteration of the Goodrich DB-110 as used in the RAF’s RAPTOR would turn the F35 into a very powerful recce system.”

lets hope so…natural progression when RAPTOR bows out – I also pray that we go for the gun pod… but cant help feeling it’ll be the “fitted for but not with” for a while.

October 7, 2012 11:32 pm

The F35 design does seem to be taking the right approach, fit the sensors and integrate within the plane design but allow modular fit of extras.

Not sure why they don’t do the same with the helos

October 8, 2012 9:22 am

Very much looking forward to TD’s update on F-35 progress. I really want to like this aircraft, but there has been so much criticism of the programme that I don’t know what to think. It looks as though it is already a better aircraft than the Harrier in terms of performance, range, internal fuel capacity, payload, ease of flying, ease of servicing and situational awareness avionics. Is it? Please advise.

October 8, 2012 11:23 am

I’d be curious as to how modular you could make these things; I suspect they’d have to be custom-built to house each bit of kit, otherwise there’s no guarantee you’d get the right transmission levels through the front for your EO sensors to see out of it.

Of course, once the external profile and material is flight-approved it would be a much simpler job then each equipment supplier coming up with their own Radome design.

October 8, 2012 11:49 am

Monty, we won’t really know until non instructors and test pilots/maintainers get their hands on it and start to be trained. Right now at least from a UK perspective from what I’ve read the people that will be ‘leading’ the training are being trained.

By design the F35B has requirements to a) have a longer combat range than an F16/F18 (from memory) b) carry more ordinance than our old carrier air c) bring back more ordinance in a really hot place than our old carrier air, d) be a true swing-role aircraft, e) be steath/Low observable, f) be a supersonic aircraft g) be easier to fly and operate to allow more concetration on the mission and less on flying the plane.

It’s how well it meets those requirements that people are panicing about. Personally I’ll be really impressed if it can do all of that at IOC but I don’t doubt that by the time the carriers are supposed to be fully operational it will.

October 10, 2012 7:32 am

On that note has the second prototype been handed over to the RAF/RN yet I seem to remember it was only around a month behind the first one?

Brian Black
Brian Black
October 10, 2012 12:42 pm

Hi, mmoomin. Surely the big question mark over the Lightning is still “How Much?”.

I think we’ll all ultimately be pleased with F35’s tricks and skills, but if the only fixed wing aircraft we can afford to embark on the carriers in strength are Defenders, it’ll be frowns al round :(

October 10, 2012 12:46 pm

I think the big question any RN/RAF Pilot will be asking is? can I get my Golf Clubs in that Pod?

October 10, 2012 2:47 pm

Nah ultimately it’s a cutting edge defence product and it’s still in development and it’s in low rate production.

The whole thing about the F35 being low cost comes from being made in vast numbers so the individual aircraft cost is lower.

All of the figures being bandied about are for 3000 odd aircraft right now there are 36!! The cost will go down per aircraft later on as more are built. I’m willing to bet thats why we’ve only committed to 48 so far when the total buy was envisaged to be 138 to 150.

I know the F18 is the go to ‘low cost’ favorite but the C/D model is already 30 odd years old and the E/F version is 20 odd years old.

By the time you add on the engine and all the electronics and sensor pods that are in the F35 by default to a base model F18E/F the cost goes up quite a bit then add on 20%ish FMS (essentially all the stuff never included in the oh so low F18 price that gets bandied about) and I bet by the time you’ve done all that you still have a 20ish year old aircraft that has a decent chance of becoming very obsolete by the 2030’s costing you over £75 million quid each (which coincindently is when the US will be getting shot of theirs). If Boeing get the contracts to fit all the glass cockpit stuff and modernisation bits they are touting the cost of things will only go up more.

Bear in mind the Aussie’s are paying 1.5billion odd to the US to convert 8 or 9 of their F18Fs to F18G’s thats $125 mill a plane and thats only ‘renting’ the equipment and support.

Basically any purchase is going to be massively expensive what ever it is. However I don’t think buying a plane with a shelf life of 15ish years for an aircraft carrier intended to go up to 50 years is a great idea to save a bit of money up front only to throw more down the drain later……sound familiar….

October 10, 2012 4:29 pm


Their is no way we will be getting 138-150 Lightning, at least not until Typhoon gets a replacement way in the future. I think it will be a miracle if we see 100 in British service, I reckon it could drop to 70 or 80 aircraft.

I agree with you on you’re other points though. All modern jets are expensive, their is no cheap option, but the price is almost certainly going to drop as the years roll by and production ramps up, and as you say this knowledge could well be the reason why the RAF/RN won’t see more than 48 of them before 2020.

(It does mean that with Tornado and the older Typhoon leaving service we could end up with just 155 fast jets, but I guess that’s another issue).

I agree with you’re points on the F18 as well, it’s a false economy! Perhaps if we had gone with a proper CATOBAR carrier and Super Hornet package way back at the beginning of this saga then it could have been a good deal, but now we are looking at an ageing aircraft that would require serious modification to fit British specifications, and would then require a replacement (probably Lighting) down the road. Anything you save now you’re going to spend later, what’s the point!

October 10, 2012 5:34 pm

The pod is interesting because of the possibilities it brings. If the weight and c of g location is similar to the gun then very little flight testing is required if its different more flight testing of future configurations will be required but think energy weapons perhaps a vigilance pod type configuration.

while we talk about F35 being in LRIP its being produced in larger numbers annually than any other fighter in the western world. There is currently flying or in various stages of production somewhere close to 120 a/c.

Is also worth considering what drove F35 in the first place. Namely the issue in nato/coalition operations of an inability to integrate with the US network, lack of sead assets, lack of high contested precision strike, lack of aar and lack of intelligence collection assets. F35 is seen as a platform that will help significantly in all of those areas from land or sea.