Lockheed Martin Launches JSF Avionics Flying Test Bed
Advanced Capability Demonstrations Reduce Risk and Cost in EMD
FORT WORTH, Texas — In late February, the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) team began airborne testing of its prototype multisensor avionics as part of the JSF Concept Demonstration program.
Testing is being conducted in Northrop Grumman’s Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATB), a modified BAC 1-11 aircraft, from their facilities in Baltimore, Md. Airborne testing is required to reduce risk by factoring in dynamic, real-world effects on sensor performance that cannot be adequately reproduced in simulations or ground testing.
"We expect the tests to provide a significant amount of valuable data on our advanced sensor suite," said Frank J. Cappuccio, vice president and Lockheed Martin JSF program manager. "The data will be fed into our cost-effectiveness design tradeoff models to ensure we have a low-risk, highly capable, yet affordable, next-generation fighter. With the flawless performance of the systems on this flight, we are much further along in prototype avionics testing compared to traditional new aircraft programs. This also means risk reduction in meeting the technical performance, cost and schedule in the Engineering and Manufacturing (EMD) phase of the program."
The advanced-technology prototype avionics systems installed in the CATB include the Northrop Grumman multimode radar and distributed infrared sensor system, the Kaiser helmet-mounted display and a Lockheed Martin processor. The radar features an electronically scanned array antenna. The infrared sensor system, along with the helmet-mounted display, allows the pilot to "look" in any direction to spot targets and threats, day or night. The helmet-mounted display provides the pilot with off-boresight target/sensor cueing capability, as well as other data traditionally provided by a fixed head-up display. The JSF will be able to correlate target data from on-board sensors and off-board sources.
The Lockheed Martin JSF team plans approximately 50 flights and 150 flight hours in the CATB this spring and summer. Engineers will use data from the CATB flights to verify sensor design and fusion, as well as to provide environmental effects data to refine sensor models and simulations.
"The BAC 1-11 CATB continues to be a very cost-effective test platform," said David J. Short, Northrop Grumman’s program manager for the JSF sensor systems. "Since our team’s JSF aircraft and mission systems designs are relatively stable and mature, the validation testing we are doing now should reduce the flight testing required in the next phase of the program, lowering risk and cost during EMD."
Lockheed Martin received one of two JSF Concept Demonstration contracts awarded by the Department of Defense in November 1996. The Lockheed Martin JSF team includes Northrop Grumman and BAE SYSTEMS. Flight evaluation of the demonstrator aircraft is scheduled to take place in 2000, with government selection of a single contractor for the EMD phase set for 2001.
Lockheed Martin is headquartered in Bethesda, Md., and is a global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s core businesses are systems integration, space, aeronautics and technology services.
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