The US Navy’s Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) has achieved the initial operational capability (IOC) status, marking a key milestone in its development.

JPALS has the capability to guide aircraft to precision landings in all weather and surface conditions.

The IOC status implies the system is now ready to provide precision approach and landing capabilities to tactical carrier aircraft at sea in support of global naval aviation operations.

The global positioning system (GPS) enabled precision landing systems will be outfitted on all of the navy’s aircraft carriers (CVN) and amphibious assault ships (LHA/LHD).

According to the US Navy, JPALS has been supporting F-35B deployments on LH-class amphibious assault ships with early operational capability since 2016.

JPALS will now provide the precision navigation and landing capability for F-35s on nuclear aircraft carriers as well.

Naval Airspace and Air Traffic Control Standards and Evaluation Agency director commander Jeff Dugard said: “JPALS has reached a historic milestone, which supports our requirement to deliver, operate and maintain a navy with a focus on our core roles of sea control and power projection.”

The IOC was declared following the successful installation, integration and flight certification of the first JPALS production unit onboard Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in December last year.

This declaration comes after many years of system development and testing activities since 2008.

PMA-213 programme manager captain Kevin Watkin said: “The achievement of JPALS IOC is a positive reflection on the hard work, innovation and resilience from a dedicated team of government and industry professionals who have developed and fielded this critical capability to the warfighters.”

In June 2019, the US Navy awarded a $234m initial low-rate production contract to Raytheon to manufacture 23 JPALS.