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IRIS-T set to be added to JSF's European arsenal

PAUL LEWIS / WASHINGTON DC

Lockheed Martin is looking at different partner nations' requirements for AAMs

The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme office (JPO) is expected to ask Lockheed Martin to look at integrating the IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile (AAM) with the F-35, in addition to the rival MBDA Asraam and Raytheon AIM-9X weapons.

In response to a UK requirement, Lockheed Martin plans to fit up to four Asraam missiles in the JSF's two internal weapons bays. The short-take-off vertical landing (STOVL) and conventional take-off versions will also have wingtip stations, while the carrier variant will have two additional underwing AAM hardpoints due to its larger folding wing design.

It is anticipated that IRIS-T will be carried on the wingtip stations, as well as the US Raytheon AIM-9X, but "we have not done any engineering installation on this missile yet", says Doug Hayward, Lockheed Martin JSF IPT lead for fire control and stores. The need to add IRIS-T is driven by JSF partner nations Canada, Italy and Norway, which are part of the German BGT-led consortium developing the missile.

The only other AAM baselined for JSF is the Raytheon AIM-120 Amraam active-guided beyond visual range (BVR) missile, two of which will go in the weapons bay. The planned pan-European Meteor BVR missile is likely to be a future addition, but it is unclear if it can be accommodated internally. "We've seen preliminary data, but we've not yet done any detailed engineering assessment," says Hayward.

Already deemed too large is the MBDA Storm Shadow stand-off air-to-surface weapon, which instead will be carried externally on the UK's fighter. The Lockheed Martin AGM-158 JAASM is also likely be confined to underwing stations, but has not yet been made a JPO requirement. The missile has been selected by Australia and some initial analysis has already been done.

Following the decision to drop Alliant Technologies in favour of General Dynamics (GD) as the JSF gun integrator, Lockheed Martin is now reviewing possible alternatives to the Mauser 27mm weapon. "This was an affordability driven decision and GD brings with it the unique opportunity to integrate a number of options," says Hayward. These include GD's 25mm GAU-12 from the Boeing/BAE AV-8B or a derivative gun. A final decision is due next month.

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