The upgrades allow the Raptor to fire the AIM-9X Block 2 and AMRAAM missiles as well as enhanced software to operate together with the F-35.

F-22 Raptor new weapons software
F-22 Raptor to get advanced weapons and software.

The U.S. Air Force intends to provide the F-22 Raptor with new sensors and updated software to enable the stealthy fighter to fire new advanced weaponry, better identify targets and perform a wider scope of attack missions.

USAF will hire Raytheon to upgrade their F-22's short-range air-to-air Sidewinder missiles. Currently the Raptors are equipped with AIM-9X Block 1 Sidewinders, but the USAF intends to replace them with more advanced Block 2 version. In addition, Raytheon will allow the Raptor to fire the AIM-120D Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). The AMRAAM is a radar-guided "fire and forget" missile meant for all weather attacks, in contrast to the Sidewinder's head-seeking guidance system. The F-22 currently fires the AIM-120C AMRAAM, but Raytheon claims that the 120D has a 50 percent longer range, improved guidance system and a two-way data link so the pilot knows if the missile has found its mark or not.

"In the Summer of 2019, the F-22 fleet will begin to receive upgrades to its available weapons with the Increment 3.2B upgrade. This upgrade allows full functionality for the AIM-120D and AIM-9X Air-to-Air missiles as well as enhanced Air-to-Surface target location capabilities," said 1st Lt. Carrie J. Volpe, Action Officer, Air Combat Command Public Affair, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

Additional upgrades, such as new sensors, software upgrades, hardware adjustments, new antennas and two-day data links are also in the pipeline for both the F-22 and the F-35, to be installed by 2022. The Air Force intends to pair the planes together, with the F-22's aerial combat supremacy complementing the F-35's flexibility and precision.

"The F-22 is designed to fly in concert with F-35," said Lockheed Martin F-22 Program Deputy John Cottam to Scout Warrior. "Software Update 6 for the F-22 will give the Air Force a chance to link their sensor packages together. Sensors are a key component to its capability. As the F-22 gets its new weapons on board, you are going to need to upgrade the sensors to use the new weapons capability."

Thanks to the mid-life update, the world’s first fifth-generation fighter, will be able to consolidate air supremacy over China and Russia 5th Gen. stealth fighters and fly until 2060.

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Written by Matteo Sanzani