F-35 Sensor Shows Missile Defense Promise

The F-35’s distributed aperture system, or DAS, recently detected and tracked a two-stage rocket launch from more than 800 miles away. This was accomplished during a routine flight test aboard a surrogate aircraft, DAS maker Northrop Grumman announced Tuesday. DAS is an infrared sensor system designed to provide 360-degree situational awareness to F-35 pilots. Operating off the company’s BAC 1-11 test bed aircraft, the system tracked the rocket during its nine-minute, two-stage flight from horizon break until final burnout. “We have only scratched the surface on the number of functions the F-35’s DAS is capable of providing,” said Dave Bouchard, Northrop’s program director for F-35 sensors. He added, “The number of possibilities is endless.”