US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II aircraft participate in a training mission over South Korea. US Air Force via Reuters / Josh Rosales

The US F-35 Joint Strike fighter could help US antimissile systems down North Korean rockets, according to a story on military website Defense One.

Writer Patrick Tucker reports that Northrop Grumman called a group of journalists to its offices in Linthicum, Maryland on Tuesday and detailed some results of a 2014 experiment carried out by the defense maker with the US Missile Defense Agency, or MDA.

“The F-35 is studded with sensors like no other aircraft, including the Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, a half-dozen 17-pound electro-optical and infrared sensors. These feed a helmet-mounted display that allows the pilot to effectively ‘see through the plane’ and spot incoming aircraft and missiles,” Tucker wrote.

He says Northrop and MDA have been researching in the last several years if DAS could track an enemy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The hope is that DAS data will help “other missile-defense gear get a targeting track on a missile more quickly, improving the odds of nailing the shot.”

“That information can go straight to the Patriot [missile system], THAAD, or anywhere else, who has communication with that platform,” John Montgomery, a business development manager at Northrop’s ISR & Targeting Division, was quoted as saying. “You can give that information to a shooter. That shooter now has information to go and put his information in the right place. Thus the radar doesn’t have to search. It goes, ‘I know where it is; it’s right there.’”

Further details of the project are classified. But Montgomery was quoted as saying: “I can tell you right now that this system, as depicted here, really does help the ballistic missile environment.”

The Pentagon is also mulling futuristic weapons concepts such as arming drones with missile-killing lasers.

Another question the US has been researching since the “Star Wars” days of the 1980s is whether advanced fighters armed with the right weapons can down incoming ICBMs.

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