More Bang, More Buck: US Considers Adding ICBM Interceptors to F-35

US

In all likelihood, adding more bells and whistles to the F-35 can only make its $1.5 trillion program price more expensive, while experts have questioned if the plan is even realistic.

The Pentagon’s top research official is mulling whether to add air-to-air interceptors to the F-35’s weapons arsenal in order to give the stealth fighters anti-ballistic missile capabilities, a new report says.

“We will, as the report implies, be studying that again, but I’ve seen recently any number of assessments — several assessments — which indicate that this is something we should be looking at,” Mike Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, was quoted as saying on January 17 by Defense News.

The White House’s new Missile Defense Review calls for the US Air Force and Missile Defense Agency to study how the F-35 could be used for boost-phase missile interception, Defense Daily reported. The report is due to be issued in six months.

Griffin was apparently confident that anti-ballistic missile capabilities for the F-35 will be affordable.

“For certain regional geographies — North Korea comes to mind — we actually think its possible and cost-effective to deploy what I will loosely call air-to-air interceptors,” said Griffin, noting that such systems could come in the form of “using the aircraft as either sensor or weapons platform.”

The F-35 has a suite of six 17-pound electro-optical and infrared sensors mounted…

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