C4iSR: Air

LM switches F-35 DAS supplier ‘to enhance capability, reduce cost’

14 June 2018
The F-35’s DAS is to be supplied by Raytheon from Lot 15 in 2023, meaning that 951 aircraft fitted with the current Northrop Grumman system will need to be retrofitted to the latest standard. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

Lockheed Martin has switched suppliers for the Distributed Aperture System (DAS) fitted to its F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), contracting Raytheon in place of the incumbent Northrop Grumman.

The aircraft manufacturer announced on 13 June that it has selected Raytheon to develop the aircraft’s next generation DAS system to “enhance capability and reduce cost”.

“The supply chain competition for the next-generation F-35 DAS resulted in significant cost savings, reliability, and performance improvements,” Lockheed Martin’s vice-president and general manager of the F-35 programme, Greg Ulmer, said in a statement.

According to Lockheed Martin, the decision to switch DAS supplier will result in more than USD3 billion in life-cycle cost savings; an approximately 45% reduction in unit recurring cost; a greater than 50% reduction in operations and sustainment cost; five times more reliability; a doubling in performance capability; and improvements in aircraft readiness and service manpower requirements.

The current Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-37 DAS (also called electro-optical DAS [EODAS]) has functions that include air-to-air search-and-track, target cueing and missile warning, and air-to-ground surface-target tracking. The system uses six CMC Electronics conformal compact lightweight imaging infrared (IIR) sensors located around the airframe and a seventh in the targeting system pod, with combined data providing all-aspect multifunction imaging to the pilot via the wide-angle helmet-mounted display. This imaging is overlaid with target and threat data information. The DAS combines with the Lockheed Martin internal Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) to comprise the aircraft’s wider Electro-Optical Sensor System (EOSS).

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