The Sidekick is a modification from Lockheed Martin to allow the A and C variants to carry up to six AIM-120 air-to-air missiles (instead of four) in its internal weapons bay.
The Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2021 Unfunded Priorities List has put in a request to equip low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 15 F-35C fighters with the Sidekick internal weapons rack.
The Sidekick is a modification from Lockheed Martin to allow the A and C variants to carry up to six AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles (instead of four) in its internal weapons bay.
Sidekick is not compatible with the F-35B, because it features a smaller weapons bay.
As we have explained last year, Lockheed hasn’t released details of the design of the Sidekick mechanism. It’s possible the Sidekick replaces the AIM-120 launch adapter in the high section of the internal bay with a mechanism that can store two of the Raytheon-built, radar-guided missiles in the same space as one now.
The F-35C brings radar-evading stealth capability to the carrier deck for the first time in US naval aviation history. The F-35C carrier variant sets new standards in weapon system integration, lethality, maintainability, combat radius and payload that bring true multimission power projection capability from the sea.
The F-35C combines lessons learned from previous aircraft with technology breakthroughs to produce a fighter that retains its stealthy advantage with minimal low observable maintenance, even in the harshest shipboard conditions.
The F-35C matches 5th generation survivability with major advances in network-enabled mission systems, reliability and interoperability. It is a first-day-of-the-war fighter with the capability to dominate adversaries in the air or on the surface, while surviving the most formidable threat environments.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin