Lockheed develops rack to make F-35A/C a six-shooter

F-35 Armament, fuel tanks, internal and external hardpoints, loadouts, and other stores.
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timmymagic

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Unread post10 May 2020, 15:00

Corsair1963 wrote:In the end the F-35 will likely have the largest selection of weapons available to any modern day fighter! 8)


Compared to the F-15? No chance...especially as at the rate they're going it will be 2050 before they get anything added. Lots of announcements, but they'll all be in the queue behind the Block IV weapons. Thats JSM, Spear & Spear EW, ASRAAM CSP, Paveway IV Penetrator, Meteor, JSOW-C1, SDB II Stormbreaker, AARGM-ER. That list was pared down from the original intention as well (the UK removed Brimstone, Storm Shadow and Paveway IV Moving Target from the list a long time ago). The only good news is the SOM-J may be removed from that list with Turkey being removed from the programme (not that anyone outside of Turkey was going to buy it anyway).
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bring_it_on

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Unread post10 May 2020, 17:17

timmymagic wrote:
Corsair1963 wrote:In the end the F-35 will likely have the largest selection of weapons available to any modern day fighter! 8)


Compared to the F-15? No chance...especially as at the rate they're going it will be 2050 before they get anything added. Lots of announcements, but they'll all be in the queue behind the Block IV weapons. Thats JSM, Spear & Spear EW, ASRAAM CSP, Paveway IV Penetrator, Meteor, JSOW-C1, SDB II Stormbreaker, AARGM-ER. That list was pared down from the original intention as well (the UK removed Brimstone, Storm Shadow and Paveway IV Moving Target from the list a long time ago). The only good news is the SOM-J may be removed from that list with Turkey being removed from the programme (not that anyone outside of Turkey was going to buy it anyway).


It depends who is pushing for upgrades. You referenced UK programs. That is a lot different from the USAF or USN getting the weapons that it wants or needs in a timely fashion. The test fleet is also slated to receive about 6 aircraft over the next couple of years. Some of the original timelines set for block 4 weapons integration were weapon development schedule dependent.

The SDB-II is itself in LRIP and only slated to become operational this summer. AARGM-ER just entered EMD and has the EA-18G as the threshold platform (for good reason). SiAW is less far along then it. Same with some of the UK strike weapons and the JSM. If the USAF and USN want, they can spiral into the C2D2 additional weapons capability early if that is what is desired operationally. The current block 4 weapon integration is likely to suffice though as some of the weapons they desire are themselves in development. Same with AIM-260. There is one thing to show urgency in integration and another thing to actually field a credible capability that justifies that urgency. It will take quite a while for the USAF or the USN to build up inventory of these weapons to justify rapid integration onto more and more platforms.

The USAF declared IOC on the F-35 4 years ago, and the USN just last year. And we are already on the second tranche of weapons integration with Blk 4/C2D2 upgrades. Things are only likely to speed up but there need to be a weapons to integrate and a justifiable need to push integration plans to the left. You can't have an inventory of 200 weapons and then want to move integration on additional platforms to the left. That's barely enough to meet the needs of the threshold platform. For example in FY19, the USAF bought just 500 SDB-II's. Those will likely take a couple of years to deliver. Between testing and other usage how many will the deployed F-15E's have access to in the early 2020's? Only when those 4-digit SDB II buys begin showing up in the inventory will you really have a need to bring more platforms onboard. The Navy which counts the F-35 as the threshold platfrom will likely be able to deploy the SDB-II on the F-35C within 2 years of the munition declaring IOC with the USAF. That's a new weapon, on a new block just a year after the service performs its first at sea deployment. The Marines should get it around the same time as well.

So the program office is more than justified in balancing the need to integrate new weapons with the need to introduce EW upgrades, hardware modifications/upgrades, new software enabled modes, and other capabilities like increased internal AMRAAM carriage. If there is an urgent need, or if you have weapons that exist in sufficient quantity that are just held up by the integration schedule, I'm sure they can move a few things around and move those plans to the left. But most of these Next Gen weapons aren't even in rate production yet. For some its a chicken and egg problem, but for most it just has to do with their own development schedule.
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