|Quoting AirRyan (Reply 31):|
But in a decision to be selected next month, Japan isn't in a position (on this F-4 replacement) to bet on hypotheticals. Will the 6 AAM mod be funded and or survive further cuts? I think both aircraft have about a 600nm combat range, do you know something different? The F-35 may have a better overall radar in terms of potential, but it's limited by the physical design on the nose cone and thereby limited by it's ability to cool itself, as I understand it. With plans for a further upgrade on the APG-79, I'm not so sure how much better the JSF radar may actually be.
1. Block 5 is funded; otherwise no SDB
, AIM-9X Block 2, JSOW, and addition of inverse SAR mode so it can track maritime targets among other things. Block 5 should start being tested sometime in the 2012-2013 timeframe. The analysis is that most export and partner nations will get their F-35's delivered during Block 5.
What makes it more likely Block 5 will continue to be funded is that unlike F-16, where there are dozens of F-16 configurations in service around the world, and with the USAF
, there will only be a handful of F-35 configurations, with early production F-35's being easily upgraded through software updates, and the occasional processor upgrades. With Lockheed Martin having to integrate and clear well over 20 different weapons systems (and that list keeps growing almost every week), it is obvious that they won't be able to have everything in the F-35 by IOC. Once Block 4 arrives, the majority of the weapons systems would have been integrated.
The 6 AAM upgrade is basically development of a new rail to hold 2 missiles on the internal bomb rack. F-35 currently carries a single AIM-120 on each bomb bay door, plus a AIM-120 on the internal bomb rack, meaning 4 AIM-120's. Remember that the internal bomb rack on the F-35A and C are designed for 2500lb weapons (re: big and heavy weapons).
I will pointedly remind you that the F-22's bay was originally designed to accommodate nothing but FOUR (4) AIM-120A/Bs. It wasn't much latter in the program that the ejectors were rearranged to allow it to carry six AIM-120C/Ds. And even later to carry two AIM-120C/Ds and two GBU-32 (1000 lbs) JDAMs or eight GBU-39 SDBs after LRIP had started. The bay was not originally designed to accommodate bombs at all and it was not modified or enlarged. They just happened to fit in there and an ejector was later developed to take advantage of it.
But regardless, with external rails, F-35 will carry 10 AIM-120's, even without the ability to carry 6 AIM-120's internally. That's 2 more than the F/A-18E/F, and it can still fly further on internal fuel (F/A-18E/F will require 3 external drop tanks), and can still reach supersonic if required (F/A-18E/F cannot when carrying weapons due to the canted weapons pylons).
2. The AN
/APG-81 radar on the F-35 is based upon the F-22's AN
/APG-77 radar, while the F/A-18E/F's AESA radar is essentially the older AN
/APG-73 radar backfitted with AESA. The AN
/APG-81 most notably has a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) terrain mapping function for air-to-surface surveillance and targeting, meaning that the F-35 essentially has the capabilities of the E-8C
Not to mention the F-35 also has IR
all around the aircraft at once. And it can fuse the data from datalinks, radar, Top