With a Raptor’s body and the Lightning II’s brain, the F-22, F-35 hybrid would aim to answer the next decade’s Russian and Chinese threats
Defense One has found out that Lockheed Martin is working behind the scenes to peddle its F-22, F-35 hybrid fighter to the U.S. Air Force.
With a Raptor’s body and the Lightning II’s brain, the new jet would aim to answer the next decade’s Russian and Chinese threats.
“You’re building a hybrid aircraft,” says David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who is now dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “It’s not an F-22. It’s not an F-35. It’s a combination thereof. That can be done much, much more rapidly than introducing a new design.”
The new variant — similar to one Lockheed is pitching to Japan — would incorporate the F-35’s more modern mission system and “other advancements in the stealth coatings and things of that nature,” according to a person familiar with the proposal.
“There’s a lot of potential in this idea,” Deptula said. “I’m not suggesting that we jump right into it and embrace it, but from the Japanese perspective when they are looking at and willing to invest in this kind of an alternative as opposed to trying to build an indigenous aircraft that’s not going to get close to what an F-22 can already deliver. It’s a smart move on their behalf.”
Deptula argues that buying upgraded F-22s allows the U.S. military to take an incremental step before buying a radically redesigned sixth-generation fighter jet with technologies that have not yet been proven.
“If you take a look just the general areas of aerodynamics, propulsion, low observability, we have not gotten to the point where we can achieve any order of magnitude increases in any one of those areas beyond where we are [with the] F-22 outer moldline,” Deptula said.
Noteworthy as we have previously reported, in July Boeing has been quietly peddling a new variant of its F-15, dubbed F-15X, to the Pentagon.
The F-15X would carry more than two dozen air-to-air missiles and has modern flight controls, cockpit displays, and radar.
“We see the marketplace expanding internationally and it’s creating opportunities then to go back and talk to the U.S. Air Force about what might be future upgrades or even potentially future acquisitions of the F-15 aircraft,” said Gene Cunningham, vice president of global sales of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.
The USAF has not procured new F-15s since placing a 2001 order for five F-15E Strike Eagles, the two-seat fighter bomber variant of the mighty F-15.
At times, Boeing has argued that upgraded versions of F-15 Eagles and F/A-18 Super Hornets could come close to matching the advanced stealth, sensors and electronic warfare capabilities of the F-35 at a fraction of the cost.
Photo credit: Master Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock and Airwolfhound from Hertfordshire, U.K. via Wikipedia
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