Decisions loom on future Air Force Arsenal Plane to fire smart munitions cued by stealthy jet fighters

Nov. 13, 2019
The B-52? C-17? Or a stealthy version of the B-1B? Whoever is the winner, the plane will become a flying magazine for fifth-generation jet fighters.

WASHINGTON – The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

The U.S. Air Force is carefully considering what plane is the best fit for its new Arsenal Plane concept. Popular Mechanics reports. Continue reading original article

13 Nov. 2019 -- The Arsenal Plane, a large aircraft packed with semi-autonomous smart munitions, is designed to provide extra firepower for fighter jets that spot targets but don’t have the weapons to take them out. The Air Force has a variety of airframes to choose from, but choosing the right one is harder than it sounds.

The Arsenal Plane concept goes back to the 1990s, when the U.S. Navy briefly considered an “Arsenal Ship.” The Arsenal Ship would have been a ship that looked like a supertanker, with a long flat deck covered with missile silos.

The Arsenal Plane is a very similar idea, using an airplane instead of a warship. Modern fifth-generation fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II jet fighters are extremely stealthy and difficult to detect but carry their weapons internally, so as to preserve their stealthy profile.

Related: Army makes big order for Excalibur satellite-guided smart munitions artillery rounds

Related: The future of precision-guided munitions

Related: Army asks Lockheed Martin to ramp-up Hellfire II air-to-ground smart missile production

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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