Military Aviation

US Navy wants Sidekick internal weapons rack for F-35C to carry 6 AIM-120 air-to-air missiles

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.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35C Lightning II VFA-125 Rough Raiders, NJ406, 169160 / 2018

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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