Northrop Grumman, a leading aerospace and defense technology company, clinched a substantial $705-million contract from the United States Air Force earlier this week. This contract aims to supply cutting-edge air-to-ground missiles specifically tailored for the high-performance F-35 combat jets.

Under the agreement, Northrop Grumman is set to deliver the Stand-in Attack Weapon (SiAW), a potent addition to the F-35 arsenal that promises to enhance the aircraft’s lethality and firepower.

Advancing SiAW: Maturing the Next-Gen Missile for F-35 Superiority

Over the next 36 months, Northrop Grumman will be engaged in a comprehensive process to refine and mature the SiAW missile. This undertaking will encompass platform integration and a rigorous series of flight tests to ensure the weapon’s reliability and effectiveness.

“During the next 36 months, Northrop Grumman will further develop the weapon, conduct platform integration and complete the flight test program for rapid prototyping in preparation for rapid fielding,” Northrop said in a press release.

The ultimate goal of this effort is to equip the F-35 with a state-of-the-art air-to-ground missile capable of meeting the demands of modern warfare.

“Work will be performed at the company’s Northridge, California facility and its factory of the future for missile integration at Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in West Virginia,” they added.

The SiAW is anticipated to reach its initial operational capability milestone by 2026, a substantial step forward in the F-35’s capabilities, which will further cement its status as a formidable fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Northrop Grumman
Artist’s rendered illustration of the future SiAW missile. (Image source: Northrop Grumman)

Armament Evolution: Assessing SiAW’s Role in F-35’s Arsenal

Currently, US Air Force F-35s are equipped with a combination of AIM-9X missiles on their wings and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles carried internally. It remains uncertain whether the introduction of the new Northrop Grumman SiAW missile will replace any of these existing armaments or serve to augment the fighter’s firepower.