F-35A flies with mission systems avionics

FORT WORTH, Texas, 10 July 2010. The ninth Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter entered flight testing, becoming the second test jet to fly with the next-generation avionics package that will populate all operational F-35s. The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, known as AF-3, flew for 42 minutes during its first flight.

Pennwell web 120 96

Posted by John McHale

FORT WORTH, Texas, 10 July 2010. The ninth Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter entered flight testing, becoming the second test jet to fly with the next-generation avionics package that will populate all operational F-35s. The F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, known as AF-3, flew for 42 minutes during its first flight.

The F-35 avionics, or mission systems, are the most comprehensive and powerful ever to fly in a fighter. The Lightning II gathers, processes and applies data from a wide array of on-board and off-board sensors, enabling the jet to perform command-and-control functions while providing unprecedented situational awareness to the pilot, other air assets and surface forces.

The jet will begin testing with its active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; electronic warfare system; integrated communication, navigation and identification system; inertial navigation system; global positioning system; integrated core processor; and helmet-mounted display system, then integrate other sensors as flight testing progresses. An F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant became the first test jet to begin flying the mission systems package earlier this year.

"AF-3 is very much like the first production F-35s we will deliver to the U.S. Air Force later this year," says Doug Pearson, Lockheed Martin vice president of F-35 Test and Verification. "AF-3 will be the workhorse for demonstrating the lethal 5th generation combat mission systems capability that will reside in all F-35s."

Three F-35 variants are under development -- the F-35A CTOL variant to replace U.S. Air Force F-16s and A-10s, as well as aircraft employed by seven allied nations; the F-35B STOVL variant to replace U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harrier GR.7s, GR.9s and Sea Harriers, and Italian Harriers; and the F-35C carrier variant to replace U.S. Navy F/A-18s.

The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, advanced sustainment, and lower operational and support costs. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

More in Defense Executive