Let’s Do More Shots

The F-35 program office is looking at adding capacity for another AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided air-to-air missile in each of the jet’s two weapons bays, increasing internal—and thus stealthy—missile loadout by 50 percent, program director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan said March 22. Speaking with reporters after his speech at a McAleese/Credit Suisse conference in Washington, D.C., Bogdan said, “There is potential … to add a third missile on each side.” The upgrade would likely be part of the Block IV program of F-35 enhancements, but “that’s something I know the services and all the partners” are interested in. Bogdan said this would not require some special version of AMRAAM, but “the same AMRAAM missiles that we carry today, just an extra one; probably on the weapons bay door.” The F-35 can carry two AMRAAMs in each bay now, or a mix of AMRAAMs and Joint Direct Attack Munitions internally. “There’s a lot of engineering work to go with that,” Bogdan cautioned, and he did not speculate on when such a change could be made.