JSF EW Systems Evaluated
Testing at facilities in Ft. Worth, TX, has successfully demonstrated the signature, countermeasures systems and sensors for one of the competing JSF proposals. (Lockheed Martin artist's rendering)
Evaluation of the electronic-warfare (EW) systems for Lockheed Martin’s proposed Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) have gotten underway at the company’s facilities in Ft. Worth, TX. The JSF’s signature, countermeasures systems and sensors have all come under the glass in recent months.
Testing of the aircraft’s signature and countermeasures systems have been conducted at the Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator (AFEWES), which features real-time, real-frequency, hardware-in-the-loop and operator-in-the-loop simulations of a wide array of radar- and infrared-guided threat systems. More than 1,400 test runs were performed against infrared-guided, air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and over 250 were run against radar-guided threats, including approximately 1,500 SAM-launch opportunities. The results of these tests were described by one Lockheed Martin official as “very promising.”
The controlled environment of the AFEWES, which celebrated its 40th year of operation in 1998 (see “AFEWES Celebrates Ruby Anniversary,” JED, November 1998), allows extensive testing of systems and techniques at costs significantly lower than those associated with actual flight tests.
Meanwhile, nine military pilots have participated in over 40 hours of tactical-combat tests at Lockheed Martin’s new Virtual Battlefield Management Center, also located in Ft. Worth. These tests were designed to evaluate the JSF’s sensor systems against a variety of surface-launched and airborne threats expected to make up the battlefield of 2010. In addition to data from onboard sensors, the pilots also received simulated, integrated information from offboard sources as well to mimic the enhanced situational awareness the JSF should provide.
The Virtual Battlefield Management Center includes two fully equipped JSF cockpit stations with all-aspect, high-resolution visual systems, along with four manned control stations for simulated “adversaries” or additional “friendly aircraft.” A theater-style room provides real-time viewing for observers and can also be used for pre- and post-mission briefings.
Lockheed Martin received one of two JSF concept-demonstration contracts from the Department of Defense in November 1996. A spokesman for the other contractor, the Boeing Co. (Seattle, WA), when contacted by JED, stated that the company had no plans to test the EW systems of its JSF variant at the AFEWES — which, despite being operated by Lockheed Martin, is a Air Force-owned test facility — or at the Virtual Battlefield Management Center. “We have other means to do EW testing for this phase of the program,” the spokesman said.
Flight evaluation of both companies’ JSF demonstrator aircraft are scheduled to take place this year, with government selection of a single contractor for the subsequent engineering-and-manufacturing-development phase of the JSF program, slated to begin next year. — B. Rivers