F-35 Lightning II News

Full-scale F-35 pole model begins mission systems testing

November 12, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Multi-phase Mission Systems aperture testing is under way on a full-scale model of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at the Air Force Research Laboratories' Newport, N.Y., test facility.

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The model, manufactured by Advanced Technologies, Inc., of Newport News, Va., is being used to measure installed antenna pattern, gain and phase measurements for the F-35's Communication, Navigation & Identification (CNI) and Electronic Warfare (EW) systems.

The aperture test program, a major Mission Systems development milestone, began on Oct. 1 with testing of the CNI system's upper L-Band antennas from Ball Aerospace. Early test results show the pre-production apertures meet or exceed pattern and gain requirements while installed in the F-35 model. Additional tests are evaluating the performance of the CNI system's Satellite Communications, Global Positioning System and UHF/VHF communications apertures. EW aperture testing will begin in 2005.

"The beginning of aperture testing in this world-class test facility is a significant achievement in the F-35 JSF program," said Bob Elrod, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 JSF program general manager. "This is a key milestone on the way to our first flight date in 2006."

Future test phases will validate CNI and EW production-antenna performance in a "clean" aircraft configuration (no external stores, landing gear up, doors closed). Later tests will also evaluate the impacts of various external weapons configurations on aperture performance. The installed-antenna data will be used for design validation, performance verification, risk reduction, improved system performance modeling and simulation, and reduction of the number of F-35 flight-test points required to verify avionics performance. The F-35 model will also be used to measure antenna-to-antenna isolation measurements to support F-35 radio frequency (RF) compatibility verification. The model weighs 8,500 pounds and was produced over a 44-week period. With interchangeable wing and tail components, it has the capability to simulate all three F-35 variants.


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