Well this idea at least has been around for years:
And I do believe it is in it's design parameters.
Correct, another image which is from 2011. The Drive is pretty low on editorial credibility though, the site is very focused on click bait articles, so I don't put a lot of stock in their info but I am trying to post all articles here in the thread, not just positive ones or those from credible sites.
and this one which shows the plan for Blk 4 weapons integration. The below is old and has changed though the JPO appears to have received permission to start Blk 4 work immediately and not wait for formal OT&E certification. Much of the weapon integration work can be done now and it seems pointless to wait until a formal Blk 4 window opens.
A decent overview although some stuff in there that is now outdated, I'm also not a fan of drag calculations like that, too many assumptions.
Time marches on but the F-35 has yet to prove itself in real world scenarios. I'd love to see how the F-35 would compare to an updated F-14D or the Tomcat 21. Or what it will truly bring to the fight when called upon to haul iron 6+ hours one way. I fear a reality that we saw in 2001 when F-14As were leading the fight into Astan, not the F/A-18Cs.
At the time, an F-14A was a proven and reliable aircraft with well-trained crews which offered very little (if any) disadvantage over an F-18. That's a completely different scenario than using a 5th-gen F-35 over a legacy F-14.
What exactly are you concerned about in such a hypothetical mission for the F-35?
As far as "what it would truly bring to the fight" - uh, stealth for starters.
I feel like people are down-playing that advantage these days - it has the singular capability of completely transforming a given mission profile and success rate. I mean, you could get into sensor-fusion and all the other stuff, but I'm not sure what mission profile you're talking about. First-strike? Air-to-air? First-strike capability basically requires stealth (if one were to "dominate" an opponent at least - I'm sure an F-14 would still do quite well conventionally) and as far as air-to-air is concerned, a flight of multiple F-35s in communication with each other provides a level of SA that the F-14 could never achieve.
Anyways this isn't really fair, I love the F-14 to death, but you just can't pitch 50-year-old technology against something that's basically half-composite, half-computer - neither of which even existed when the Tomcat was developed! (okay, primitive.. but you get my point)
Also, saying the F-35 has yet to prove itself is a strange statement.. we spend billions developing ICBMs, but the Minuteman-III (and every other ICBM) has yet to prove itself.
Isn't that the entire point of defense spending? I believe (like the F-15) that the majority of the F-35s combat experience will likely be with a foreign nation.