The Defense Department plans to continue studying the feasibility of equipping the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with new weapons for boost-phase interception.
The Trump administration’s new missile defense review, released Thursday, states that the Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency will deliver a joint report to senior Pentagon officials in the next six months “on how best to integrate the F-35, including its sensor suite, into the [ballistic missile defense system] for both regional and homeland defense.”
The aircraft, in production by Lockheed Martin, has a sensor system that can feasibly perform missile detection via infrared signatures in the boost phase, transmit tracking data to the joint force, and can currently track and destroy cruise missiles.
“In the future [it] can be equipped with a new or modified interceptor capable of shooting down adversary ballistic missiles in their boost phase and could be surged rapidly to hotspots to strengthen U.S. active defense capabilities and attack operations,” the report said.
Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon that the F-35 could be capable of such boost phase interception with a new weapon on it, and could potentially be done at low cost. (end of excerpt)
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