The Pentagon recently announced that the F-35, the stealth fighter plane that President Trump seems to think is literally invisible, may soon be equipped with new weapons specifically intended to take down nuclear missiles.
As described in the Pentagon’s official Missile Defense Review from last Thursday, The anti-nuke F-35s would join other measures designed to disable and protect from intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) such as laser-equipped drones as well as orbital sensors that can spot and intercept ICBMs after they’ve been launched.
It‘s far-fetched to imagine a fighter plane successfully shooting down a missile that travels, at its slowest, 6.5 kilometers per second. The pilot would need to already be near the site of the missile launch, know that it’s going to happen, and operate with a near-zero margin of error, according to Motherboard.
To borrow the words of the fictional character Zoë Washburne from the TV show “Firefly,” it would be like “like throwing a dart” and “hitting a bulls-eye 6,000 miles away.”
Thankfully the Pentagon envisions anti-nuke F-35s as a complement, not a replacement, for existing nuclear defense systems. These proposed anti-ICBM F-35s mainly complicate what the F-35, first deployed in combat last Fall, is supposed to be.
As Motherboard points out, different branches of the military have different visions of what the F-35 should do, specifically catered to that branch’s needs. And now, apparently, it’s also supposed to stop any potential hostile nukes.
READ MORE: Now the F-35 Is Also an Anti-Nuke Weapon [Motherboard]
More on the Missile Defense Review: The U.S. Wants to Put Ballistic Missile Defense Systems in Space