18:27 GMT03 April 2020
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    US Air Force officials have finally pinned down when the F-22 Raptor fighter jet will receive weapons upgrades, after previously experiencing delays caused by issues with the aircraft’s software.

    A $613-million upgrade program for the Raptor was set to include new air-to-air missiles but was “limited” by continued delays in software development over the past two fiscal years, Sputnik reported January 27. Officials have now pinned down the weapons upgrades to take place in the summer of 2019, according to 1st Lt. Carrie Volpe of the US Air Force.

    At that point, "the F-22 fleet will begin to receive upgrades to its available weapons with thin Increment 3.2B upgrade," Volpe noted, adding that the upgrade, "allows full functionality for the AIM-120D and AIM-9X Air-to-Air missiles."

    With new air-to-surface strike-systems updates, the F-22 will track ground-based targets with greater precision, Scout reported. The F-22, heralded by some as more combat-ready than the F-35, will also carry new AIM-120D medium range missiles used for other aerial targets. 

    The Raytheon 120D missile is considered to be an "all-weather, all-environment" guided missile originally created to provide air-strike capabilities against "very" low- and high-altitude targets moving at high speeds, according to a report from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense. The 335-pound fire-and-forget missiles run approximately $1.7 million each for the ‘D’ variant, according to a 2015 Pentagon budget estimate. Previously, the F-22 was armed with a C-variant of the same missile. 

    The Raptor upgrades include new AIM-9X ‘Sidewinder’ air-to-air missiles, Scout noted. The AIM-9Xs are touted for their ability to hit targets  comparable to the AIM-120Ds, however they are also capable of hitting targets "beyond visual range," according to a Pentagon report.

    F-22 Raptor, missile upgrade, US Air Force, Carrie Volpe, United States, Virginia
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