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If the F-35C is officially classified as “operational” and “ready for war,” the Navy is adding weapons, sensors, and software to the plane to expand in the attack envelope — and may even increase the F-35s ability to 6 air-to-air weapons in the internal weapons bay.
Such a configuration, that would increase the stealth fighter internal weapons load by two missiles, designed and implemented by the F-35-maker Lockheed Martin — as a sacrifice for the air force and the Navy to consider.
“Lockheed Martin has matured design concepts to integrate 6 air-to-air missiles in the internal weapons bays of the F-35A and F-35C variants,” Lockheed Martin spokesman Michael Friedman said the Warrior in a written statement.
While making a point to emphasize that any decision to increase the weapons capacity of the F-35 would, of course, must come from the military services themselves, Lockheed engineers say that the new “internally carried firepower would greatly increase attack options — while maintaining the stealth configuration of the aircraft.
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“While there is no 4th generation aircraft has the ability to carry weapons internally, 5th generation aircraft such as the F-35 can carry weapons both internally and externally, so pilots and mission planners, to the unique operational flexibility,” Friedman added.
Lockheed Test Pilot Tony “Brick” Wilson recently said that the new program, the so-called “Side-Kick” can cause a slight increase in aircraft weight but does not affect performance. General, speaking at a Lockheed event, Wilson stated that the Side Kick initiative brings an opportunity for the F-35 to carry six air-to-air weapons in the internal bay, in contrast to four.
Officials of the Pentagon of the F-35 Joint Program Office to tell Warrior they are, of course, on the height of this Lockheed innovations, but of course, no comment on specific supplier offers.
At the same time, the F-35 developers about the services need to be constantly talking about expanding the weapons envelope for the F-35 as it flows forward with the ongoing modernization. Pentagon of the F-35 developers have stated that there is a continuous development and modernisation strategy, which aims at the conservation of the F-35s advantages to 2070.
How to add weapons to the F-35 introduces a number of important variables, the first and most obvious is …. it simply gives the plane more “photos” to hit an enemy target in the air. An additional air-to-air missile can mean the difference between success or failure, life or death, in a sort of battle engagement.
A perhaps less recognised element is located in the upcoming prospect of air refueling. As the now-in-development Marine MQ-25 Stingray aerial refueler provides for a F-35 to almost double the range, this allows for the possibility of more missions, more live, the time and the opportunity to pursue a wider range of goals needs to be new intelligence information arise. New targets, in particular in the fight against the scenario in which an F-35 faced with multiple opponents in a single engagement will arise quickly. More weapons may simply mean that there are more mission kills for the F-35 is being attacked by multiple enemy aircraft; the fighter can use long range sensors to detect enemies and continue to be involved in an attack for a longer period of time in a fight without having to return for new ammunition. In short, a number of additional weapons could massively expand the attack envelope for the F-35s, should fly longer missions. Finally, not only would a custom internal weapons bay preservation from the fighter’s stealthy exterior, but also frees up space for the integration of new weapon systems as they may arise. The larger weapons capacity could not only carry more AIM-9xs, AIM-120Ds, and other well-known weapons, but may also be supplemented by the yet-to-exist weapons of new technologies.
An F-35C Lightning II carrier variant, assigned to the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, fly above the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). (U. S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Wyatt L. Anthony)
Maintaining Stealth With Internal Weapons
By the integration of the new weapons rack is in the “internal weapons bay,” the effort used engineering to align with the most important parameters with regard to the construction of stealth aircraft. Stealth, engineers explained, must be “built in” to a plane. While an F-35 could take the place of weapons on pylons, which they naturally contours a lot more detectable to enemy radar. Internal weapons, however, designed to align with an overall stealth design, are an indispensable element of stealth technology. As such, stealth construction extends further than internal weapons bays for internal antennas, sensors, fuel tanks and engines. All of this represents efforts to ensure that the aircraft will not generate as much of a demonstrable “return signal” to the enemy radar.
It is interesting that the internal weapons bays were cited in 2010 Lockheed Martin Aeronautics paper called “F-35 Weapons System Overview.” The document cites internal weapons bays as an essential aspect of the overall stealth design, that also “Low-Observable Seams, Curved Divertless Inlets and Aircraft Edge Alignment.” Simply put, the absence of hard edges, spikes or highly integrated vertical structures makes it much more difficult for the enemy radar pings to “bounce” a plane and send back the electromagnetic rendering.
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The F-35C arsenal includes GBU-32 and GBU-12 air-dropped bombs, AIM-120 and AIM-9x air-to-air missiles and a 25mm cannon. In the future, the F-35C will have a capacity to drop a Small Diameter Bomb II is a high-tech weapon called Stormbreaker able to detect and destroy moving targets from great distances with the aid of a tri-mode zoeker.De SDB II makes use of the millimeter wave, laser, and infrared guidance technology and is now being tested on a F-35, Raytheon developers have explained. New weapons such as the SDB-II can be added by incremental software “drops”, created for the F-35. Each new drop, or Block, expands the aircraft avionics, sensors and weapons capabilities. Block III is now operational and the air force works on a Block IV software drop; this is the step that the F-35 to fire the SBD II.
While the software drops are, by design, made in steps, the air force is making a decided push to accelerate software upgrades for the platform. The rationale, as defined by the air force Acquisition Executive William Roper, is to make use of fast emerging technological developments in a continuous, rapid fashion — so as not to be limited to a predetermined “steps,” often years apart. In fact, at a given time during a call with reporters about the fight against the consequences of the software upgrades generate short-term results, Roper, referred to the rapid integration or “cycling” of new software upgrades will probably determine “who will win the next war.””
With a broad wingspan, reinforced landing gear, ruggedized structures and durable coatings, the Navy and the F-35C is designed for heavy sailing conditions. The avionics to equip the pilot with real-time, spherical access to battlespace information. Is being developed for a carrier, the F-35C’s 51-metre wingspan is bigger than the Air Force’s F-35A and Marine Corps’ F-35B short take-off and landing variants. It can fire two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and two 2,000-pound Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The F-35C can reach speeds of up to Mach 1.6 and travel more than 1,200 nautical miles, according to Navy information. Various tests and evaluations have also ensured that pilots can use night-combat enabled Helmet Mounted Displays designed to provide more fidelity in the low-light conditions, such as those with little or no moonlight, Pentagon officials tell Warrior.
“For more permissive airspace, the F-35 can carry more than 18,000 pounds of the total of the ordnance internally and externally,” Friedman added.
The emergence of a carrier-launched stealth fighter is intended to provide the Navy more combat attack flexibility and an improved ability to fight advanced enemy air defenses of a sea-based carrier. Such a possibility can allow a maneuvering carrier to keep the targets of the close proximity of the poet, if land bases are far from the control of the environment.
The F-35C is also equipped with a new technology called Delta Flight Path helps pilot land on a carrier deck easier, the Pentagon of the F-35, developers say. Test pilots, such as Wilson, have been credited for the F-35C’s Delta Flight Path technology to significantly reduce the pilot workload during the approach of the carrier, increasing safety margins during carrier approaches and reduce the landing dispersion. Having a more streamlined and efficient work can, among other things, free up pilots for the printing of missions, such as the attack of the activities.
Assessment of the F-35C also efforts to fine-tuning a precision landing technology called Joint Precision Approach And Landing Systems, JPALs. JPALS works with GPS satellite navigation system to provide accurate, reliable and high-integrity guidance for fixed and rotary wing aircraft, Navy statements. Navy information has described JPALS as a system with anti-jam protection to ensure the continuity of the mission in hostile environments. “JPALS is a differential GPS that will provide an adverse weather precision approach and landing capability,” a Marine statement said.
In a previously issued document described as the “Naval Aviation Vision,” the F-35C is described as being designed with reinforced landing gear and durable coatings to the F-35C to be able to withstand the harsh shipboard conditions while delivering a lethal combination of fighter capabilities to the fleet
Carrier landing is never easy, as a pilot, I must take into account the wind speed, the atmospheric conditions and the speed of the ship. Interestly, Lockheed Test Pilot Tony “Brick” Wilson spoke with Warrior a few years ago, he was one of the Navy test pilot with the F-35 program. During this interview, Wilson detailed a number of important elements of flying from a carrier launched F-35C. Wilson explained Warrior Maven in earlier interviews that the pilots follow a yellow light on the flight deck of the ship called the Fresnel Lens, to help in the process of the approach, called their glide slope.
By 2025, the Navy aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G rendered some of the electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft, such as the Marine Osprey tilt rotor aircraft variant.
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