September 10, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Aeronautical Systems Center personnel connected with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program are "flying" the jet with the Sept. 8 arrival of the F-35 cockpit demonstrator here.
The F-35 Lightning II cockpit does away with most switches and gagues in favor of two 8"x10" advanced LCD touchscreens. With the addition of the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) to the F-35 system, there is no need for a conventional Heads Up Display (HUD) on the glare shield in the cockpit.
The cockpit demonstrator is a traveling, working mock-up of the advanced jet's cockpit, complete with wrap-around high-resolution displays to give pilots a sense of motion.
ASC's 640th Aeronautical Systems Squadron officials here oversee Air Force acquisition and program management support for the F-35, said Lt. Col. Anthony Genatempo, the 640th AESS commander.
"Our people have been working hard to see the F-35 through system development and demonstration," Colonel Genatempo said. "We're delighted to be able to bring the cockpit demonstrator here so they can get a sense of what it's like to fly it. With its stealth and integrated systems, nothing will come close to the F-35's multirole capabilities."
The F-35 is a stealthy, single-engine, supersonic multirole fighter that will replace a variety of aging fighter and strike aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied defense forces.
The A-10 Thunderbolt, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Hornet and A/V-8 Harrier are among the jets it will replace. Once fielded, it will complement the fleet of F-22 Raptor air-supremacy fighters that are already operational.
Affordability is a key component of the F-35s acquisition strategy, Colonel Genatempo said. This is achieved through shared development with the Navy, Marine Corps and partner nations. A high degree of commonality exists between three variants: a conventional takeoff and landing, or CTOL
, aircraft for the Air Force, carrier variant for the Navy, and short takeoff/vertical landing, or STOVL
, for the Marine Corps.
"The F-35 is a fifth generation, all-weather strike fighter that was conceived in the early 1990s," Colonel Genatempo said. "The program is really maturing rapidly now."
The colonel added that the first F-35A built, a CTOL variant, has already flown 45 times and the first STOVL variant recently began flight testing. To date, nine development aircraft have been built or are in production.
More than 2,500 F-35s are currently planned for the United States and England, with commitments from many other countries to build for their air and naval forces.
The F-35 cockpit demonstrator will remain at Wright-Patterson AFB
until Sept. 10.