The US Air Force and Lockheed Martin, the makers of F-22 Raptor, have confirmed several new weapons and system upgrade for the F-22 Raptor to enhance the capabilities of the stealth fighter by equipping it with more long-range precision attack technology, helping it to cover a wider area in its “target envelope” or “field of regard” and new networking technology enabling improved, real-time “collaborative targeting” between aircraft.
These weapons upgrades are engineered to build the technical foundation needed for the long term, given that the Air Force plans to fly the F-22 well into the 2060s, to help integrate a new generation of air-to-air missiles as they emerge in coming years.
The two new weapons, which have been under testing and development for several years now, are advanced variants of existing weapons - the AIM-9X air-to-air missile and the AIM 120-D. Upgraded variants of each are slated to be operational by as soon as next year.
The new AIM-9X will shoot farther and reach a much larger targeting envelope. Working with a variety of helmets and display systems, Lockheed developers have added “off-boresight” targeting ability enabling pilots to attack enemies from a wide range of new angles. The pilots can even shoot over their shoulder if required be. If enemies get behind the pilot in a dogfight, this will help get rid of the adversary without much effort.
Raytheon AIM-9X weapons developers claimed in a statement that the Block 2 variant adds a redesigned fuze and a digital ignition safety device that enhances ground handling and in-flight safety of the missile. Block II also features updated electronics that significantly enhances its capabilities, including lock-on-after-launch capability using a new weapon datalink to support beyond visual range (BVR) engagements.
Another weapons upgrade includes enabling the F-22 to fire the AIM-120D, a beyond visual range (BVR) Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), designed for all weather day-and-night attacks; missile developer Raytheon’s data states that it is a "fire and forget" missile with active transmit radar guidance. The AIM-120D is said to have been built with upgrades to previous AMRAAM missiles by increasing attack range, GPS navigation, inertial measurement units and a two-way data link making the new AIM-120D a better seeker while making it more maneuverable with better countermeasures.
The overall lethality of the F-22 is also getting drastically improved through integration of new two-way LINK 16 data link connectivity between aircrafts, something which will help enable pilots in different aircrasfts real-time airborne “collaborative targeting. Being able to digitally transmit fast-changing, combat relevant targeting information from an F-22 cockpit - without needing voice radios - lessens the risk associated with more “jammable” or “hackable” communications.
[The Drive, Defense Systems]