Hi To All,
Special Regards to flaterick and .
If it wasn't for a friend, I would not have seem my picture of the F-23A weapons bay configurations posted.
The ATF weapons capacity was one of its most debated issue of the program. "How many missiles to carry ?" was a question that was answered: 6 of existing design or 8 of new or modified design. The Existing missiles of the time were the AIM-9L and the AIM-120A. The New/Improved missiles were the ASRAAM and the AIM-201C respectively.
It's been found in practice that the F-22 is the first fighter that actually "runs out of missiles" on a regular basis and could keep on shooting down enemy aircraft if it had more. It so Ironic that its 2D trust vectoring nozzles and super maneuverability do not play any part in that "shooting gallery" type of story that happens in exercises. It has even ended up using its gun because of lack of missiles.
A conceptual flaw if you ask me.
Ever since I run across the Northrop Patent in Reply #28, some 3 years ago I was fascinated by the ingenuity of the design and the potential that it has.
1st. Its amazing how little space can 4 AIM-120A can take. You can never fit 4 like that on external stores. And some people thought that internal bays for aircraft meant less space for weapons. Only they forgot that internally carried weapons do not need forward launch clearance zone and can be placed much closer to each other.
2nd. lets analyze the launcher weight. We have a common launch mechanism and we have a common holding mechanism. Compare that to the weight of 4 externally carried pylons for all 4 AMRAAMs.
3rd. The potential it has when considering the AIM-120C with the clipped wings. If we look at the launcher as it is now we see that the wings of the bottom missile determine its proximity to the launch door in the same way the wings of the top missile determine the height of the mechanism. Similarly the wings on all missiles make the width of the whole launcher. Lastly the distance between the missiles are also limited by the wings. See a pattern. What if we are to clip those wings like on the AIM-120C variant?
If we are to design the whole mechanism around the AIM-120C, it will be 22% shorter and 35% narrower. In other words, you can say that 3 of the new launchers will fit on the place of 2 of the old ones. The F-23 weapons bay is almost as tall as it is wide as seen on the declassified video footage. If it were designed to carry 2 of those launchers with 2 AIM-120A each (the minimum), it can easily be modified to carry 3 with 3 AIM-120C each. Thatís 9 total.
However this concept has its critics which say: A jam in one of the missiles will render the other above it useless. This is funny to me as missile launchers are hell of a lot less complex than engines yet some fighters have single engines. And the Lockheed 1985 wining ATF proposal had a revolving launcher. If it failed all the missiles might fail to launch save only one!
Looking at bays for the short range missiles, the F-22 has 1 for each Sidewinder missile. A sidewinder must be a dams important weapon for the ATF to have is own weapons bay.
. Fitting two missiles is a lot more difficult as they have to be extended sideways and the wings cannot overlap.
At least Lockheed designed it for access panel for other things too.
The F-23A had a dedicated short missile weapons bay. It can also carry a total 2 Sidewinder missiles. Converting it to carry 3 missiles (AIM-9X or ASRAAM) could be as each as the F-22 conversion from 2 A models to 3 C models of AMRAAM in its each main missile bay.
All in the F-23A with a slight change in the launchers could carry 4 more missiles or 50% more than the F-22A
A pics of all that will come shortly