U.S. Navy has recently disclosed plans to augment the firepower of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by integrating four air-to-surface missiles.
Lockheed Martin to Lead Integration Efforts
In a recent development featured by The Drive, in November 14, 2023, notably, the AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missile, previously unknown to be on the agenda, has been included in the lineup. Alongside the Hellfire, the Navy intends to equip the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), the AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), and the AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM). This strategic move expands the F-35’s offensive capabilities, marking a noteworthy development in the aircraft’s armament.
Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of all four missiles including F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is set to play a crucial role in the research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) phase, as outlined in the announcement on the U.S. government’s System for Award Management (SAM) website. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) China Lake is seeking Lockheed Martin’s expertise for design and development studies, technology demonstrations, and engineering services.
The focus is on rapidly advancing technology development for the JASSM, LRASM, JAGM, and Hellfire, ensuring seamless integration with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This collaboration signifies a strategic step towards enhancing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter operational versatility through cutting-edge weaponry.
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Exploring Missile Capabilities and Future Drone Integration
In a news released by Yahoo News, diving into the specifics of the planned missiles, the AGM-158 JASSM, with its stealthy long-range strike capabilities, provides the F-35 with a robust means to engage key enemy targets from standoff ranges. The LRASM, initially designed for maritime strikes, offers the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter a dedicated anti-ship missile, addressing a previous capability gap. The JAGM, designed for closer targets, introduces precision-guided munition capabilities.
Additionally, the unexpected inclusion of the Hellfire brings the potential for rapid engagement of multiple targets in all weather conditions while maintaining the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth characteristics. It explores the possibility of integrating a longer-range version of the Hellfire and the intriguing prospect of incorporating tube-launched Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
As the Navy moves to bolster theF-35 Joint Strike Fighter arsenal, the integration of these advanced weapons and potential drone capabilities opens new avenues for the aircraft’s role in modern warfare scenarios.