[Defense in Brief] F-35s could be used to shoot down North Korean missiles

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The latest development in U.S. missile defense very well could be the F-35, and the platform may be capable of downing North Korean missiles.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., hinted last month that the planes are capable of downing nuclear missiles in their boost phase with their Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) just seconds after takeoff.

“It’s like an act of God,” Hunter said. “You have F-35s, you have AMRAAMs, and you can shoot these things down as they go up.”

The F-15 could also be used in the same role if outfitted with the right sensors. But the F-35 already has them.

Northrop Grumman has developed the F-35’s infrared AN/AAQ-37 sensors that serve as an aircraft and missile warning system and the jet’s fire control radar. The company has been testing the sensors on ballistic missiles for several years, according to the report.

Tom Lawhead, head of the Air Force Joint Strike Fighter Integration Office, agrees with Hunter and told Aviation Week that the technology is feasible with the F-35. Northrop would need three years from starting integration to achieve full missile defense potential.

Northrop has tested a ground-based system coupled with a radar-enabled aircraft in 2014 as a proof of concept, and Missile Defense Agency Deputy Director Rear Adm. Jon Hill told Avation Week that the F-35 along with lasers and drones are under consideration for the  Trump administration’s Ballistic Missile Defense Review. [source]

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