F-35 Gets Avionics

Lockheed Martin announced Jan. 23 that it had completed the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with its mission systems, paving the way for avionics testing on board the new aircraft. The company’s Fort Worth, Tex., production facility on Jan. 21 rolled out the avionics-equipped short take-off and vertical landing variant, dubbed BF-4, which has the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array radar and integrated communications, navigation, and identification suite and the BAE Systems electronic warfare system. The aircraft is undergoing fuel system checks before being sent to the flight line later this month, but it’s not slated to fly until sometime this summer, the company said. Subsequent testing of the avionics on this STOVL F-35 will mark the “fourth tier” of the JSF avionics validation process, said Dan Crowley, Lockheed executive vice president and F-35 program general manager, noting that the avionics system has been through ground-based lab testing, airborne lab testing of individual sensors, and airborne testing of the full package (which we reported on last month).