By Sara Sk
easuring F-35 antenna perormance, or pole testing, began at RomeResearch Lab eight years ago. The joint Lockheed Martin-F-35 JointProgram Ofce engineering team realized in the early stages o the F-35program that a computer simulation could not adequately test therange, isolation, and overall perormance o the aircra’s antennas.And testing the antennas beore the program nished building therst production aircra was crucial.“We needed to validate the antennaperormance and ensure no major issues existedlong beore the irst aircrat were inished,” saidDavid Hamre, F-35 Radio Frequency Integrationand Spectrum lead engineer or Lockheed Martin.“Continued testing allows us to tweak the design o the antennas and make modiications to the aircratbeore ull-rate production begins.”By testing the F-35 antennas beore the jet was lying,the team could determine i the antennas were meetingrange and accuracy requirements, likely avoiding serious,and potentially costly, design modiications. The teamo engineers quickly determined that, to get the datathey needed beore an actual F-35 was produced, they would have to build an exact replica o the jet, installthe antennas, and begin testing antenna perormance.The team went to work constructing the irst model—an F-35 rame that would represent both the F-35Aconventional takeo and landing, or CTOL, and theshort takeo/vertical landing, or STOVL, variants.The iberglass and aluminum rame was subcontractedto ATI and designed so that dierent antennas can beinstalled at various positions to validate and test gainpatterns and perormance. The team completed themodel, replete with traditional Air Force markings and
When In RoMe
David Hamre, F-35 RadioFrequency Integration andSpectrum lead engineer
With a flashy black and yelloW tail adorned With a skull and crossbones, the
sleek fighter high above the us air force research laboratory at rome in
upstate neW york is hard to miss. this aircraft, Which is not actually an aircraftat all, is one of tWo full-scale models built by lockheed martin to measure theantenna performance of the f-35 lightning ii. the paint scheme mimics the insignia
of vfa-103, the famed us navy fighter squadron knoWn as the Jolly rogers.