The world’s most advanced fighter jet needs the most advanced weapons to defeat ever-evolving threats.
For the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Raytheon is providing precision munitions for firepower, a smart bomb rack that can be maintained on the fly and an advanced landing system to ensure successful missions.
“Raytheon has been involved since Day One,” said Tom Copeman, vice president of business development for the company’s Air Warfare Systems product line. “We have been working to integrate our state-of-the-art weapons on the next-gen fighter since 1996, when Lockheed Martin was awarded the initial JSF development contract.”
Those weapons include:
AIM-9X® missile: The AIM-9X Sidewinder™ missile is the first short-range, air-to-air missile to be used on the F-35. The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy and Raytheon have successfully test-fired an AIM-9X Block I missile at a target in the air from an F-35A aircraft.
The F-35 can carry up to two AIM-9X missiles on its wings and four AIM-120 AMRAAM® missiles internally. Raytheon is continuing test firings and integration of the AIM-9X missile, with introduction across the F-35 fleet expected next year.
AMRAAM missile: More than 30 AMRAAM missiles have been fired off of all three variants of the JSF since testing began in 2013. It’s also the only air-to-air missile that is currently cleared to fly on the F-35.
Last year, the AMRAAM missile became operational on the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35Bs. The Air Force is expected to declare the F-35A operational in 2017, and the AMRAAM missile will be an essential capability on the Air Force’s newest platform.
JSM missile: The Joint Strike Missile is the only fifth-generation cruise missile that will be integrated onto the F-35, and it will also be available for use on other aircraft intended for Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare applications.
The missile’s design will allow it to be carried internally on the F-35, which helps increase the aircraft’s stealth capabilities. The JSM missile is suitable for use on the F-35’s A or C variants.
JSOW glide weapon: The JSOW glide weapon is the Navy’s first air-launched, network-enabled weapon, with internal integration on the F-35 already underway. External integration is planned for the F-35B aircraft.
Paveway™ bomb: Raytheon’s Enhanced Paveway II bomb, the most capable, dual-mode (GPS and laser), precision-guided munition, can fulfill capability gaps for the F-35. It’s the best weapon to use against maneuvering targets and can be easily integrated onto the new aircraft ahead of the current JSF integration schedule.
SDB II™ bomb: The SDB II bomb will be fully integrated onto the F-35 by 2022. The JSF will be able to carry eight SDB II bombs internally and 16 externally. With the weapons carried inside, the SDB II munition will enable the F-35 to hit moving targets in adverse weather while retaining its stealth capabilities.
Raytheon’s integration work on the F-35 doesn’t stop with weapons. When the new fighter jet is operational, it will also be equipped with the company’s modernized Joint Miniature Munitions Bomb Rack Unit, or JMM BRU. Working with the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, Raytheon developed a bomb carriage and release system that will allow more weapons to be carried inside the aircraft at one time, which helps it remain undetected by enemies in the air.
“This type of ‘smart rack’ is setting new standards for capability, reliability, durability, communication, software and integration for aircraft armament equipment,” said Rimas Guzulaitis, senior director for Platform Sustainment and Modernization at Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “The JMM BRU was designed to be easily maintained by operators in the field, with interchangeable parts and a more simple design so the rack will be out for service less time and the aircraft readiness levels will increase.”
Raytheon has developed new technology that allows the rack to better communicate with the aircraft and pilot. The Universal Armament Interface, or UAI, enhances communications to improve the capability and effectiveness of the aircraft and its weapons. The company’s UAI Type II implementation has been certified by the U.S. government, making JMM BRU the first rack to achieve this rating.
And there’s Raytheon’s Joint Precision Approach Landing System, or JPALS, the only military ground-based augmentation system in the world. The Joint Strike Fighter will be the first to use it.
“JPALS is the landing system of the future for naval aviation and beyond,” said Mark Maselli, JPALS deputy program director. “It’s exciting knowing the F-35 community will be the first users of the JPALS system.”
The JPALS system also supports landings in rugged terrain and poor visibility, day or night. While these benefits are critical to safety, the system is also secure and capable of operating despite “spoofing” or jamming.
Those are attacks on a system’s ability to receive valid data, or any data at all. Both scenarios are potentially catastrophic.
“JPALS is safe, secure and reliable, no matter the condition,” Maselli said.