PAS 2011: JSF sensors complete Northern Edge exercise
Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) sensors were successfully tested as part of the US Pacific Command's Northern Edge exercise as additional roles for the aircraft become apparent, according to Northrop Grumman.
Speaking at the Paris Air Show, Chuck Brinkman, sector VP and GM for Northrop Grumman's targeting systems division described how the AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS) were tested in the Alaska-based exercise on board a BAC1-11 aircraft.
According to Brinkman, the AESA radar was tested with Block 3 development software while the DAS was tested with Block 2 delivery software: 'We have proven the robustness of the radar once again and this is an example in the [JSF] programme of what is going right. It's a shining example,' Brinkman announced.
Making its second appearance in the exercise, the radar demonstrated electronic protection and attack as well as data-linked air and surface tracks. The DAS was used for target tracking, Brinkman added.
'Alaska is a place where you can operate in a very difficult electronic environment and showed how the sensors will perform in that stressing case. Electronic protection was focused on [during the exercise] and we are looking forward to seeing how well we did this year,' he continued. Official data and feedback from US Pacific Command is expected within the next three months.
In addition, Brinkman told Shephard that Northrop Grumman was in talks with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) regarding a ballistic missile defence (BMD) capability for JSF. Tests were conducted in 2010 in which DAS was used to detect and track missile rocket launches at distances exceeding 800 miles.
DAS was initially tasked with missile warning, tracking of friendly, unknown and enemy aircraft and general situation awareness capabilities for the pilot. However, Brinkman said the MDA was interested a role for JSF although no further tests have been scheduled.
Finally, Brinkman said he had hoped to use the JSF helmet mounted display system as part of exercise Northern Edge and said the company was actively working with Lockheed Martin and Vision Systems International to solve DAS night vision problems.
Describing potential calls for an alternate helmet solution, Brinkman said: 'I believe the programme will not have to use night vision goggles. In the not too distant future, we hope to use our test aircraft to help get through this problem. The Pilots need the capability that DAS provides.'
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