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Ivor Evans is the F-35 International

Programme Manager UK at Lockheed
Martin. Here he lays out the latest
position on the development of the Joint
Strike Fighter, which is planned to replace
a wide range of aircraft.
t is now over two-and-a-half years since
the Lockheed Martin X-35 Joint Strike
Fighter ( JSF) Concept Demonstrator
last graced the California skies. Just a few
months later the Lockheed
Martin/Northrop Grumman/BAE Systems
Team was awarded the contract to produce
a family of stealthy, affordable, supersonic
multi-role fighters destined to equip the US,
the UK and International Partner aviation
arms. Time does not stand still and neither
does work on the subsequently named F-
35. Since October 2001, amongst a host of
other achievements, several major
programme reviews have been successfully
accomplished, engines are under test,
mission system risk reduction is under way
and, in November last year, cutting started
on the first structural components for the
wing, forward fuselage and centre fuselage
– the first of over 7000 parts for the overall
assembly of each aircraft.
Designing, developing, building and
supporting a modern combat aircraft is
expensive. The F-35 is a stealthy,
supersonic multi-role fighter designed to
replace a wide range of aging fighter and
strike aircraft. Three variants derived from
a common design will ensure the F-35
meets the performance needs of the US,
the UK and allied defence forces
worldwide, while staying within strict
affordability targets. To provide a solution
to these varying requirements, it was
necessary to look for economies of scale
and commonality as well as employing
modern design and production techniques
from whichever industry was most
successful at deploying them.
If this programme was to reach fruition
much common ground had to be found.
Even to reach the stage where three US
services and the UK could agree on
common requirements was a major
achievement – and as General Mike
Hough, a former JSF Program Director,
put it, not without much ‘breaking of rice
bowls’. Additionally, there was the desire
to attain interoperability with allied air
forces, the lack of which has caused so
much difficulty in combined operations.
There are many areas where F-35 will
provide new advancements or
opportunities – lower operating costs,
stealth technology for the first time in a
multi-role fighter with materials that
dramatically reduce maintenance
expenses, aerodynamic performance equal
to the best current-generation fighters
combined with significantly increased
operating ranges – but as always the heart
of any modern combat aircraft is its
mission systems, and here F-35 is already
making great strides.
Elements of the mission capability had
been demonstrated during the earlier
Concept Demonstration Phase, and now
that work is being taken further in the
current phase. The airborne side of this
work is being undertaken in a Northrop
Grumman BAC 1-11 test bed, but this will
be augmented by the addition of a new test
vehicle – a modified 737 – later this year.
The first phase of the F-35 Data Fusion
risk-reduction programme was started in
October 2003. The objective of the nine-
month programme is to reduce the
development risk of the F-35’s fusion
functionality by evaluating key
architectural concepts using a
combination of flight tests and flight-
validated ground simulations. The F-35’s
fusion capability combines and prioritises
information gathered from on-board
and off-board sources by way of the
aircraft’s various sensors. Phase One of
the flight tests installs and integrates into
the BAC 1-11 the performance
representative sensors, a fourth-
generation Northrop Grumman Active
Electronically Scanned Array radar and
the Lockheed Martin Electro-Optical
Targeting Demonstration Systems.
Earlier this year, the early risk-reduction
flight-test programme of the Electro
Optical Distributed Aperture System (EO
DAS) also began on the 1-11. The
Northrop Grumman EO DAS will provide
the F-35 with key capabilities that include
missile warning; navigation forward
looking infrared (FLIR) which provides
imagery to the pilot’s helmet-mounted
display day or night; and infrared search
and track (IRST) capability. High
resolution images from the multiple,
flush-mounted DAS sensors will provide a
360-degree spherical view around and
through the aircraft, dramatically
increasing the pilot’s situational awareness
for combat and for Short Take Off and
Vertical Landing (STOVL) operations.
All of this information, of course, is of
little use to the pilot unless it is integrated
in such a way that he or she can
comprehend, and the F-35 cockpit set up
shows one of the most startling
differences from current aircraft. In most
of today’s aircraft there are several
separate display screens showing ground
mapping, radar, early warning, etc. In the
F-35 it is all integrated into the mission
systems avionics. The pilot views this
information through an 8-inch by 20-inch
display but has no Head Up Display
(HUD). HUD duties are instead served by
a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD),
which enables data to be projected on to
the helmet’s visor.
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
More than One Pretty Face
by Ivor Evans
Cockpit Display
The cockpit display can be divided up into
four, or ten if there is the desire to have
small screens across the top, or it can be
made into one single or two large displays.
It has been recognised that new pilots –
those who really understand computers –
are very good at changing the display to fit
whatever they need, and the F-35 will give
them the flexibility to do that. Input can
be made either by touching the screen, or
through direct voice command. There are
also buttons on the throttle stick that give
access to the mission system.
Under the terms of the F-35 programme,
the US Government has funded two
engine teams to provide alternative
propulsion sources. This concept is known
as Engine Interchangeability with the
objective being that installation of either
engine is transparent to the operator. Pratt
& Whitney are building the F135 engine
and a GE/Rolls-Royce team are building
the F136. Rolls-Royce is also responsible
for delivery of the entire STOVL
LiftSystemTM, which includes LiftFanTM,
three bearing swivel nozzle and roll-post
Pratt & Whitney began testing their first
System Development & Demonstration
(SDD) engine ahead of time in October
2003, and by July 2004 expect to have seven
engines in various phases of development
testing. The first engine, FX631, has
successfully completed all of its planned
Block 1 testing, where it accumulated 231
hours of running time including five hours
in afterburner. It is now in preparation for
Block 2. FX633, the second SDD engine,
began its test sequence in January this year
and has also completed Block 1 with 122
hours of successful development testing.
Both engines have closely matched their
pre-test predictions. Testing of the first
STOVL engine, FX641, is expected to begin
in April 2004.
General Electric and Rolls-Royce formed a
Limited Liability Company in July 2002,
known as Fighter Engine Team, to develop
and deliver the ‘interchangeable’ F136
engine to compete with the P&W F135.
Rolls-Royce is specifically responsible for
the Low Pressure system, combustor and
gearbox and has an overall 40 per cent
share in the programme, GE being
responsible for the remaining 60 per cent.
The Fighter Engine Team also has a
number of International Partners from
countries such as Italy and the Netherlands
involved in the first engine test.
Assembly of the first F136 is taking place
at the GE Evendale, Ohio, facilities prior to
test in mid-2004. The first entire
propulsion system (F136 with STOVL
LiftSytem™) will take place at the GE
Peebles facilities in early 2005 in order to
prove the engine interchangeability
concept. Successful completion of this
phase precedes full-scale development
(SDD phase) from 2005. First production
deliveries of the F136 will commence in
Pratt & Whitney F135 engine under test in afterburner.
In order to minimise STOVL risk prior to
full propulsion system testing, Rolls-Royce
has been running various rig tests on the
LiftFanTM system in Bristol and
Indianapolis. The SDD configuration
clutch just completed the full specification
requirement of 1500 engagements.
Through configuration modifications in
later builds, Rolls-Royce is working to
increase further the clutch life.
The first fully configured SDD lift fan
just completed its initial block of testing
and cleared the way for acceptance
testing and later delivery of the first
STOVL LiftFanTM to Pratt & Whitney.
Lift fan gearbox and lubrication system
rigs have accumulated many hours of
development testing and have
successfully addressed all issues to
ensure minimum programme impact.
International collaboration is one of the
most prominent features of this
programme. The most obvious evidence
of the international perspective is the
presence of seven nations, in addition to
the US and the UK, forming the F-35
partnership. The UK is the sole Level 1
partner; Italy and the Netherlands joined
at Level 2; and Turkey, Canada,
Denmark, Norway and Australia have
Level 3 status. The international
partnership was completed when
Australia joined around 18 months ago
and, since that time, Israel and Singapore
have signed letters of agreement to join
as Security Co-operation Participants
(SCP). Each of these countries has
pledged sums of money ranging from
US $2bn for the UK to around US $50M
for the SCPs, which in total has added
over US $4.5bn to the F-35 programme.
One of the advantages of being a Level
1, 2 or 3 partner is the ability to bid for
work on the programme on a best-value
basis. In this respect, UK Industry has
done extremely well reflecting the UK’s
experience and capability in the
aerospace field and bringing thousands
of new jobs to the country. Additionally,
of course, BAE Systems is a principal
partner in the Lockheed Martin F-35
Team undertaking work which ranges
from the design and build of the aft
fuselage; responsibility for crew escape,
life support and EW systems; supporting
the development of Autonomic Logistics
products and services; and work on the
STOVL control systems.
F-35 work is going on around the globe
and, following on from the earlier start
of machining in the USA, in February of
this year the BAE Systems Machining
Centre at Samlesbury in Lancashire
began work on one of the major frames
that forms part of the aft fuselage.
In addition, the first assembly jig
structures for the F-35 have been
delivered to BAE Systems at Samlesbury.
The jigs will be used to assemble the
boom section of the F-35 and have been
constructed using aluminium extrusion,
rather than the traditional steel. Not
only does this make them lighter and
F - 3 5 J OI NT S T R I K E F I G H T E R
F-35 STOVL LiftSystemTM, LiftFanTM, Three Bearing Nozzle and Roll Post Ducts.
Tom Burbage (left), Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President and JSF General Manager and Tom Fillingham, Vice President and Deputy General Manager, BAE
Systems watch the first cut.
easier to work with, but also allows a
greater flexibility to incorporate any
changes to the product across the three
variants of the F-35.
The jigs are the first of 19 major
assembly jigs that are required for the
SDD phase on the Conventional Take-Off
and Landing (CTOL) aircraft and further
deliveries will follow during 2004.
Modern weapons systems go nowhere and
achieve little without the right level of
support, or Autonomic Logistics as
referred to on the F-35 programme, and
through life/sustainment costs are some of
the most significant aspects of the whole
life cost of any system. Unlike many
previous programmes, the ability to deploy,
sustain and maintain the F-35 has been
given equal importance to capability right
from the start of the programme. Indeed,
three of the eight Key Performance
Parameters (KPPs) are support related –
sortie generation rate; logistic footprint;
mission reliability – which is
unprecedented in modern programmes.
The Autonomic Logistics (Auto Log or
AL) Integrated Product Team is
responsible for the development and
delivery of Support and Training System
related products and services. Key staffs
are embedded within the Air Vehicle
IPTs to contribute to the design process
and ensure that the appropriate
supportability attributes are designed
into the Air Vehicle. The Autonomic
Logistics IPT is making good progress
towards its objectives. The F-35 Training
System Preliminary Design Review
(PDR) was successfully completed in
February 2004, the Auto Log
Information System (ALIS) PDR was
successfully completed in March 2004
and the AL Critical Design Review was
scheduled for April 2004. All key reviews
were attended by representatives from
US/UK services and International
Partners and there is work under way to
refine plans to develop AL Operations
and Deployed AL Operations. Work is
also under way on the processes, tools
and capability which will be stood up
incrementally to support the Integrated
Flight Test programme, involving
resources from all partner companies
and OEMs.
The stand-up of AL Operations and
associated infrastructure within SDD
will be used as a risk-reduction
environment to provide verification of
AL products and capabilities that will be
used to support operational assets in the
US and the UK post SDD.
The F-35 is a complex defence project
and, inevitably, there has been press
speculation about many aspects of the
programme including weight, budgets,
schedules and system performance. It has
been recognised that the design of the F-
35 airframe will take longer to complete
than expected and consequently the
programme has slipped by one year.
However, the F-35 is in the third year of
its 11-year System Development &
Demonstration phase, and investing time
and money now will ensure that the
production and operation costs are kept
manageable, providing the Services with
an affordable fighter that meets their
operational requirements.
As part of US President Bush’s Financial
Year-05 budget submission, the US
Department of Defense is conducting a
comprehensive review of the Joint Strike
Fighter Programme to evaluate the
current status of the project and the most
efficient road ahead to achieve success.
The F-35’s all-digital design gives
programme planners the unique ability
to effect design improvements before the
aircraft is built or flown, and it assures
that the best weapon system possible will
emerge from the development process.
At the time of writing, the final
programme decisions have not yet been
made. However, there is consensus at
the highest levels of the Navy, Air Force
and OSD, that there will not be a re-
sequencing of aircraft. The development
order will remain Conventional Take Off
and Landing (CTOL), then STOVL and
then the Carrier Vehicle (CV). Further
detail will be available after final
approval from the US government
The F-35 underwent an Air System Design
Integration & Maturation Review (DIMR)
in April 2004. The purpose of the review
was to capture all of the design work done
to-date and used Critical Design Review
criteria as its basis. The following months
will be spent conducting trade studies with
focus on weight reduction across the three
variants. After the trade studies are
complete and all of the analysis done, the
Air System will then undergo a Critical
Design Review. This review will take place
when the design is ready.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme
will continue to face challenges, but has
the full support of the Customer
‘We would rather take an extra year now in
terms of the design phase, working on the
issues particularly with weight, working on
the issues with commonality to make sure
that we had the right design baseline as we
go forward on the airplane.’ Gordon
England, Secretary, United States Navy,
to US Congress, March 2004.
‘This aircraft is a transformational
aircraft; [and I’m] not surprised with
such a transformational aircraft that we
have some challenges. The good news, is
that we're in about a 10- to 11-year
development cycle here. We're at the very
start. We have already identified those
challenges, and we are addressing them
and the contractors are addressing them.’
Michael Hagee, Commandant,
United States Marine Corps, to US
Congress, March 2004. I
“ At the time of writing, the
final programme
decisions have not yet
been made. However,
there is consensus at the
highest levels of the
Navy, Air Force and OSD,
that there will not be a re-
sequencing of aircraft.”