Squeezing In Two More Shots

Lockheed Martin’s “Skunkworks” operation has figured out a way to increase the F-35’s air-to-air magazine by 50 percent, company officials told the Daily Report Thursday. With “very modest” changes to the weapon bay and “no changes to the outer mold line,” it will be possible for F-35s to carry up to six AIM-120 AMRAAMs internally instead of the four that it can now bear, one official said. (In this configuration, the F-35 would carry no internal bombs.) With six AMRAAMs inside, the F-35 would match the radar-missile capability of the F-22, but without the Raptor’s two infrared AIM-9 missiles. The company is briefing the Defense Department about the potential weapons bay refinement, which could be done as a product improvement in later lots. Limited internal carriage for air-to-air weapons has been one criticism of the F-35 in some circles.