The USAF wants to use the F-35 as a stealth scout plane

They'll leave the big gunning to remotely-guided "arsenal" planes.

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Andrew Tarantola
February 8, 2016 10:01 PM
In this article: arsenal, b-1, F-35, gear, military, security, USAF, war

The F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced multirole fighter America's ever built. Problem is, that to maintain its stealth capabilities, it has to store all of its munitions within its body. This significantly limits the amount of damage it can deal to enemy forces. That's why the US Air Force wants to convert for use as forward scouts and leave the heavy weaponry to remotely-guided "arsenal" planes.

The USAF envisions converting existing bomber and cargo planes, like the B1-B or the B-52, into these flying arsenals and tailor their weapon loadouts to fit each specific mission's requirements. The arsenal planes would work in tandem with the F-35's. The fighters would stealthily scout ahead and relay detailed targeting information back to the bombers, who would then launch precision-guided ordnance. What's more, the USAF is also looking into developing higher capacity data links which would allow entire squadrons of these hunter-killer teams -- as well as support surveillance aircraft, UAVs, bombers and close air support planes -- to all share data in real time. The Air Force hasn't yet committed to fully developing the idea but if they do, it could help overcome one of the F-35's most glaring flaws.

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