For Industry, the Future Is Now:

The aerospace defense industry is in the midst of profound transformation, driven by three fundamental elements: globalization, the digital thread, and network-centric logistics. Ralph Heath, executive VP for Lockheed Martin, told attendees at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Sept. 26 that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is the perfect example. With its nine international partners, the F-35 is a poster child for the technology transfer issue of globalization efforts. The aircraft designers utilized the latest computer-aided design and engineering methods, represented by a single “digital thread.” For instance, Heath said that the Dutch application of proprietary software to help produce wiring harnesses, a traditionally low-tech element, produced harnesses that were consistently precise in their manufacture. As for network-centric logistics, the initial design work for the F-35 included provision for sustainment, ultimately giving aircraft maintainers complete situational awareness of the F-35, just as pilots have long had situational awareness in the cockpit, Heath said.