Thursday, April 8, 2010

Northrop Grumman Salutes First Flight of First F-35 Mission Systems Aircraft

Northrop Grumman Salutes First Flight of First F-35 Mission Systems Aircraft
April 8, 2010

STOVL Variant is First F-35 to Carry Electronic Systems That Provide Mission Capabilities

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) today congratulated F-35 Lightning II prime contractor Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) for successfully completing the inaugural flight of the first F-35 mission systems aircraft.

The flight of the F-35 designated BF-4, a short take off, vertical landing (STOVL) variant, commenced April 7 at 10:04 a.m. CDT from Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plan, and lasted approximately 55 minutes. It was piloted by Lockheed Martin F-35 Test Pilot David Nelson.

The flight of BF-4 marks the first time an F-35 has flown with mission-enabling sensor systems, including the Northrop Grumman-developed fire-control radar, and integrated communications, navigation, identification avionics. The company, a principal and founding member of the Lockheed Martin F-35 industry team, also builds the center fuselage for all three F-35 variants and provides key mission systems software and related test equipment.

"The first flight of BF-4 is good news for the warfighter," said Mark A. Tucker, vice president of tactical systems and the F-35 program manager for Northrop Grumman's Aerospace Systems sector. "It means the flight test program is now expanding from simply testing the flying characteristics of this fifth generation fighter, to testing the systems that will deliver the F-35's multi-role value to the U.S. and its allies."

Northrop Grumman is proud of the role it plays helping Lockheed Martin ensure that the F-35 meets the critical mission requirements not only of the U.S. Department of Defense, but also of the F-35 partner countries and potential international customers, added Tucker. Lockheed Martin is the F-35 mission systems integrator.

The company provides missions systems software used to perform several critical F-35 functions: external communications, which includes training, landing and maintenance data links; sensor planning; mission management; embedded training; and health monitoring of on-board mission systems. It also develops and produces the test station equipment used by the entire industry team to develop and test F-35 mission systems software.

Northrop Grumman also produces the aircraft's AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array fire control radar. It allows the pilot to engage air and ground targets at long range, and provides situational awareness. To date, the company has conducted extensive flight testing
of the radar on other platforms with very positive results.

Northrop Grumman developed and has successfully demonstrated the software-defined radios that provide core communication, navigation and identification (CNI) functions for the F-35. This flexible, real-time reconfigurable system will eventually provide the jet with
more than 40 CNI functions, including advanced data networking capabilities. To date, it has demonstrated excellent range and stability aboard Lockheed Martin's Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATBird) aircraft, a flying laboratory that provides an avionics environment similar to the F-35.

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