With the new stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter just now rolling out in numbers to the U.S. military and allies, my eyes caught an article this week, saying the F-35 engines were in the process of being upgraded.
What’s this? Why so soon? Turns out the upgrade is designed to increase power and better dissipate heat to accommodate the use of “directed energy weapons.”
According to an article in Aviation Week:
“Pratt & Whitney is refining its proposed upgrade path for the F135 Joint Strike Fighter engine to include increased power and thermal management (PTMS) capability following feedback on its initially proposed upgrade package from the F-35 Joint Program Office. Additional power and thermal management capability will enable the use of directed-energy weapons and other advanced offensive and defensive systems.”
My novel, “High Ground” presages this emerging technology, with an F-15 testing a satellite-killing laser from a former WWII naval air field in Maine over the North Atlantic. If you aren’t familiar with the book, the story concerns a reviled elderly woman in a small Maine town who believes she is under nightly assault by searing waves of an unknown source. “She may be crazed,” another local woman who knows her says, “but she’s not crazy.” Nightly secret test flights from a nearby former World War II Naval air field pass unnervingly close to her run-down mansion. The highly modified F-15 jets are testing satellite-killing airborne laser weapons slung below their bellies. With the aid of two younger sympathetic women, she must turn for help to the very townspeople whose lives were savaged by her late robber-baron father.
By the way, despite the F-35 news this week, for the purposes of my book’s scenario at least, the modded F-15 would still get the nod. Compare the stats: Top Speed F-35: 1200 mph/F-15 1,875 mph. Top ceiling F-35 50,000 feet/ F-15 103,000 feet. The twin engine F-15 also can carry more payload and boasts a longer range (and potentially safer flying over-water) than the single-engine F-35.
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