November 15, 2010 (by John R. Kent) - The fundamental building block for all future avionics software on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter has entered flight testing on an F-35 test jet.
BF-04 lifts off on its 24th flight on November 6th, 2010. Pilot was Lt.Col. Matt Taylor. [Lockheed Martin photo by Andy Wolfe]
, the first of three principal software-development blocks for the F-35’s mission systems, made its inaugural flight on Nov. 6 in the F-35B short takeoff/ vertical landing (STOVL
) aircraft known as BF-4. The functional check flight from Naval Air Station Patuxent River lasted 1.5 hours, and all planned test points were accomplished.
“Getting this software up and flying in an F-35 is a big step in the process of validating our avionics system and ensuring that it operates in a way that gives our warfighters a clear advantage over any adversary,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin F-35 program general manager. “The flight went as planned, and we look forward to expanded mission systems testing in the coming months.”
The Block 1 software will enable most of the primary sensors on the F-35, which possesses the most powerful and comprehensive mission systems package of any fighter ever to fly. Block 1 forms the foundation of all subsequent software blocks. It enables information fusion from the F-35’s radar, electronic warfare system, distributed aperture system, electro-optical targeting system and other sensors, and provides initial weapons-release capability.
Block 1 has been undergoing airborne testing since May on the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed, a highly modified 737 airliner that incorporates the entire integrated F-35 mission systems suite, including an F-35 cockpit. The test bed provides initial in-flight validation for F-35 software blocks before they are introduced into actual F-35 aircraft.
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 and advanced sustainment.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE
Systems. Two interchangeable F-35 engines are under development: the Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE
Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team F136.