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Author Topic: UK changes JSF configuration for ASRAAM  (Read 5860 times)

Offline tigershark

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UK changes JSF configuration for ASRAAM
« on: March 05, 2008, 02:55:11 AM »
UK changes JSF configuration for ASRAAM
The UK has made a significant change to its weapons fit plans for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The original UK intention was to clear four MBDA Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAMs) for internal carriage but this has been revised to include two internal and two external weapons instead.

The configuration change was agreed with the JSF Program Office in the United States late last year and was shown in public for the first time during the Singapore Airshow in February. The external ASRAAM fit will be common across all three JSF variants and could therefore attract interest from other international customers, who will otherwise be tied to Raytheon's AIM-9X Sidewinder.

The new ASRAAM plan is a 'work swap' that does away with the requirement to clear the ASRAAM on the F-35's two internal air-to-ground weapon stations. The integration team now has the more straightforward task of providing underwing carriage on stations 1 and 11. The ASRAAM is a rail-launched missile and internal weapons must be carried on a trapeze that swings down clear of the F-35's weapon bay before they can be launched.

It has always been a credo of the JSF programme that external weapons carriage fundamentally compromises the aircraft's very low observable (VLO) design. Speaking at the Singapore Airshow, George Stanridge, Lockheed Martin's vice president of F-35 Business Development, noted that, in general, "if you see something hanging on the aircraft it means you are not a VLO airplane". A new 'stealthy' pylon has been developed for the external ASRAAM and MBDA notes that the finless missile already has a tiny radar cross-section.

Carrying the ASRAAM outside the weapons bay brings several advantages, primarily in allowing passive long-range - beyond-visual-range (BVR) - engagements cued by the missile's seeker or the F-35's infrared search and track sensor.

Image: UK JSFs will now carry two of their four ASRAAM missiles under the wing (R Hewson)


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Re: UK changes JSF configuration for ASRAAM
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2008, 03:36:44 AM »
Well, first of all, I don't see a problem with this decision, it's pretty common sense. Why dispense two big internal stations for a short range air-to-air missile? You should use them for BVRAAMs or AS weapons.

It's better to carry ASRAAMs externally than the JDAMs or anything else. I doubt though that this option will be used a lot, as two self defense missiles will do in most instances. Two medium range missiles is still a bit short, esp. when you need to carry JDAMs as well... the bombs will need to be carried externally then, I'd guess? Anyway it's not so much a requirement for the role the RAF/RN needs these planes, and luckily the ASRAAM has quite some range.

Also, if you need to carry a TGP/LD pod and maybe additional jamming/countermeasures, you might as well put two ASRAAM under there as well.  :P In the end, external tanks will need to be slapped on as well, tankers are in high demand and short supply, conformal tanks are most likely impossible on the JSF, especially on the F-35B. Wake up, the wings will be used anyway guys! Ok, not on the stealthy, covert airspace penetration missions in which stealth is vital and on-station time minimal, but if you need more than two ASRAAMs on those missions, you're already screwed by the intel guys.

Argh, this plane could have been way better than it's going to turn out... but well you know what that means for the F-22 and arguably cost/time. I'm confident it will still be the best though for one-tier fighter fleets, or mixed with the F-22.

The external ASRAAM fit will be common across all three JSF variants and could therefore attract interest from other international customers, who will otherwise be tied to Raytheon's AIM-9X Sidewinder.

The F-35A still has six internal stations right? (pls someone confirm, as I'm worried it might be altered to save costs) With six internal missiles, it wouldn't need to carry external ASRAAMS. As for other versions, dream on, they'll settle for the AIM-9X, only likely exception is Israel because it has its own missiles. ASRAAM will make a JSF buy more expensive and most countries already have a hard-time selling this investment to it's people. They'll stick with the standard, cheaper AIM-9X. Ow, and Uncle Sam will 'convince' you it's better.
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