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Avionics integration for F-35 first flight shows early success

October 28, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Initial integration testing of the Communication, Navigation and Identification (CNI) suite for the first flight of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has begun at Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems Integration Lab (MSIL) in Fort Worth.
The initial tests of the first-flight CNI suite verified the operation of UHF and VHF communication, radar altimeter, intercom, integrated caution and warning, and identification-friend-or-foe capabilities. Over a three-week period the team tested each capability, generating early confidence in the system's design and stability.

Assembly of the first F-35 is under way, with first flight planned for 2006.

"The F-35's first-flight CNI system is being integrated into the Mission Systems Integration Lab and initial tests were flawless," said Bob Elrod, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and F-35 JSF program general manager. "The success of these early tests highlights the contributions and teamwork of multiple team partners, and helps to keep the F-35's first-flight schedule on track."

The F-35's first-flight CNI system was designed and integrated by Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector, mostly using current-inventory federated systems. Northrop Grumman developed a customized interface adaptor unit to serve as the "interpreter" between these off-the-shelf components and the F-35's displays and controls.

Hardware and software integration of the F-35's integrated CNI suite will begin soon at Northrop Grumman's Radio Systems lab facilities in San Diego.