Citing a need to integrate European armament with US-built military aircraft, Lockheed-Martin F-35s delivered to the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy will be equipped with English-built ‘Meteor' Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) weapons, according to defense-update.com.
A £41 million (approx $52 million) contract recently awarded to the UK Ministry of Defense to upgrade the new F-35 aircraft with state of the art Meteor missiles will improve, according to reports, pilots' abilities to bring down enemy targets moving at high speeds over great distances.
The US-built stealth fighter aircraft will begin receiving the Meteor missiles beginning in 2024, following extensive modifications to fit the uniquely-shaped weapon.
As reported by defense-update, the fins of the Meteor missiles will be shortened slightly, but lengthened as well, to retain their flight characteristics and fit into the aircraft.
A UK Royal Navy or Royal Air Force F-35 seeking to run in stealth mode, once modified, will be able to carry two Meteor missiles, as well as two more air-to-ground missiles, as part of its onboard armament.
F-35s in the UK that are not intended to be run in stealth mode will be able to carry additional missiles externally on the wings.
The expected upgrades will occur after 2020, as the imported US aircraft receive necessary modifications to make them compatible with foreign-built weapons and logistical infrastructure.