Lockheed Pitching F-22/F-35 Hybrid to U.S. Air Force

Lockheed Martin is quietly pitching the U.S. Air Force a new variant of the F-22 Raptor, equipped with the F-35’s more modern mission avionics and some structural changes, Defense One has learned.

It is one of several options being shopped to the U.S. military and allies as Lockheed explores how it might upgrade its combat jets to counter Russian and Chinese threats anticipated by military officials in the coming decade, according to people with direct knowledge of the plan.

“You’re building a hybrid aircraft,” 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 sugesting 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.”

A Lockheed spokeswoman declined to comment about the project.

The proposal has echoes of the late-1990s evolution of the F/A-18 Hornet into the Super Hornet. Pitched as a low-risk project, the F/A-18E/F turned out to require a redesign of almost every exterior part. The new wing proved initially troublesome, but the design eventually proved successful.

Source: Defense One
Date: Aug 31, 2018