And with even more weapons.
By 2025, the Navy's aircraft carrier-based air wings will consist of a mix of F-35C, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and Carrier Onboard Delivery logistics aircraft such as the Navy Osprey tiltrotor aircraft variant.
As the F-35C becomes officially deemed "operational" and "ready for war," the Navy is adding weapons, sensors and software to the aircraft to expand its attack envelope --- and may even increase the F-35s ability to carry up to 6 air-to-air weapons in its internal weapons bay.
Such a configuration, which would increase the stealth fighter's internal weapons load by two missiles, has been designed and implemented by F-35-maker Lockheed Martin -- as an offering for the Air Force and Navy to consider.
"Lockheed Martin has matured design concepts to integrate 6 air-to-air missiles within the internal weapons bays of the F-35A and F-35C variants," Lockheed Martin spokesman Michael Friedman told Warrior in a written statement.
While making a point to emphasize that any decision to increase the weapons capacity of the F-35 would of course need to come from the military services themselves, Lockheed engineers say the new "internally carried" firepower would massive increase attack options -- all while preserving the stealth configuration of the aircraft.