F-35 Sensors Put Through Rigors at Northern Edge

Officials tested the F-35 strike fighter’s sensor capabilities during US Pacific Command’s biennial Northern Edge exercise. Northrop Grumman’s BAC 1-11 test aircraft carried the F-35’s AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array radar and its AN/AAQ-37 distributed aperture system during the exercise, held June 13-24 in Alaska. The radar searched 50,000 square miles in the Gulf of Alaska for surface vessels and “accurately detected and tracked them in minimal time,” according to exercise officials. It also demonstrated robust electronic protection, electronic attack, and even some experimental modes, they said. The DAS made its operational debut and successfully provided “spherical situational awareness and target tracking capabilities,” they said. “By putting these systems in this operationally rigorous environment, we have demonstrated key warfighting capabilities well in advance of scheduled operational testing,” said Navy Cmdr. Erik Etz of the F-35 program office. (Elmendorf-Richardson report by Lt. Col. Tracey Saiki)