An emphasis on stealth and staying off enemy radar means the F-22 and F-35 must rely on internal weapons and fuel to get the job done. The F-22 Raptor carries up to six AMRAAM medium range air-to-air missiles and the F-35 up to four.
While both planes can carry additional missiles and fuel on their wings, doing so ruins their carefully shaped profiles, increasing their radar signatures. External stores also increase aerodynamic drag, lowering flight performance.In one possible air-to-air combat scenario, Advanced Eagles would operate with their newer counterparts to rapidly identify and take down larger enemy air fleets. The easier-to-detect and more vulnerable F-15s would hang back, quickly darting forward to launch their missiles at targets identified by F-22s and F-35s. Once their missiles are exhausted the F-15s would turn and head home and the F-22s and F-35s would then use their own built-in armament to continue the fight.
The Advanced Eagle upgrade consists of four so-called "quad pack" hardpoints on the wings, each capable of carrying four AMRAAM missiles for a total of 16. The upgrade also increases the F-15's range with conformal fuel tanks, fuel storage reservoirs that are attached to the body of the aircraft to lower drag.
F-22s and F-15s are already training to operate together with impressive results. In recentexercises held at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, four F-22s operating alongside four F-15s have achieved a kill ratio of 41 to 1 against 14 simulated enemy aircraft. (Enemy aircraft were allowed to respawn during the exercise.) Upgrading the Eagles to Advanced Eagle status would likely keep the dynamic duo viable into the near future.