UK MoD begins interoperability test for Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Lockheed Martin are testing the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft's interoperability with other UK military platforms in a common synthetic environment.
As the third of a series of four planned operations, the recent live simulated maritime mission scenario testing has been conducted as part of the UK F-35 interoperability programme.
Interoperability trials F-35 programme manager Tony Hall said that a distributed test capability has been developed to provide a common synthetic environment by linking UK industry and government platforms across a secure network.
In a simulated maritime scenario, the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force (RAF) and US Navy pilots used Lockheed-built desk top simulators based at BAE System's Samlesbury site, UK, to operate the F-35 jets.
RAF Air Warfare Centre lieutenant commander Mark Humphries said: "Bringing both air and maritime capabilities into a common mission scenario, we have been able to begin to test the interoperability between F-35 and other key maritime assets, something we have never been able to do before."
The simulation saw the aircraft successfully link with a Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, Type-45 Daring-class vessel and Sea King helicopter besides validating air and maritime simulation capabilities, while command and control directions have been provided by the two Sea King pilots.
HMS Duncan's Royal Navy air warfare officers operated from the Queen Elizabeth Carrier lab controls in the Isle of Wight, while HMS Dauntless's Royal Navy air warfare officers and fighter controllers operated from the Type-45 Destroyer lab in Portsdown, UK.
In addition, the F-35 aircraft used digital datalinks to transfer commands and threat information between air warfare officers and demonstrated interoperability concepts while linking mission system laboratories into a single common battlespace environment.
HMS Dauntless lieutenant commander Jim Blythe said: "We have been able to fully exercise the Type-45 combat management system and gain a broader experience of digitally controlling fighters than has hitherto been possible."
Image: A Royal Navy's F35 Lightning fighter aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy.