Marine Corps F-35B scores a kill (sort of)—with a Navy-launched missile - Kogonuso


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Sep 14, 2016

Marine Corps F-35B scores a kill (sort of)—with a Navy-launched missile

Sean Gallagher
Enlarge / A Standard Missile 6 launches to engage an over-the-horizon threat as part of the US Navy’s first live fire demonstration to successfully test the integration of the F-35 with existing Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) architecture on September 12.
US Army
In a test at the White Sands Missile Range this week, an unmodified US Marine Corps F-35B fighter successfully acted as an airborne spotter for the Navy's Aegis Weapon System, locking onto and passing targeting information for an "over the horizon" threat to a Standard 6 missile. The missile, launched by the USS Desert Ship—a US Navy ground facility at White Sands that emulates an Aegis-equipped cruiser or guided missile destroyer—"successfully detected and engaged the target," according to a statement issued by the Navy's Program Executive Office-Integrated Warfare Systems.
The test showed that all F-35 fighters can connect into the Navy's current version of the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) network architecture. What that means is that the radar systems aboard the F-35s now making their way out to the Marine Corps and Navy will be able to act as extensions of Navy ships, allowing them to pass targeting data on incoming aircraft, drones, and cruise or ballistic missiles to Ticonderoga-class cruisers and Arleigh Burke class destroyers, who can then in turn push a button and launch an SM6 (also known as the RIM-174 Standard Extended Range Active Missile)—a missile with an effective range of up to 250 nautical miles (460 kilometers, 290 miles)—to take out the threat. Additionally, the same integration could allow the F-35 to target ships and other surface targets for missile strikes from an Aegis ship.
Aegis is the weapon system first deployed in the 1980s aboard the USS Ticonderoga. It is the backbone of the surface Navy's air and missile defense capabilities, originally developed to work with the giant SPY-1 phased-array radar systems deployed aboard the Ticonderoga and its sister ships. But Aegis's software has been gradually extended to take in targeting information from a broad collection of other sources and has even been adapted for ballistic missile defense, including a current land-based Aegis system in Romania and a future "Aegis Ashore" ballistic missile defense site in Poland. Ars will be taking a deeper look at Aegis and ballistic missile defense in an upcoming feature.
Hooking up with Aegis is a good thing for the F-35—especially the Marines' F-35B—because it means the Marines can save their own missiles and bombs (which on the vertical take-off and landing F-35B are in very tight supply). "This test represents the start of our exploration into the interoperability of the F-35B with other naval assets," said Lt. Col. Richard Rusnok of Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VMX-1), the officer in charge of the squadron's F-35B detachment. "We believe the F-35B will drastically increase the situational awareness and lethality of the naval forces with which it will deploy in the very near future."

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