Lockheed Martin and the Joint Strike Fighter programme office have finalised the definition of the Block 3 F-35 - the production standard that will be the culmination of the system development and demonstration effort now under way.
"The configuration definition is finalised and approved, and is quite favourable in terms of end capability," says Bobby Williams, air vehicle team lead. A wide-area synthetic-aperture radar capability called "big SAR" has been added to Block 3, he says, in addition to the narrow field-of-view SAR modes already planned.
The Block 3 standard complies with the operational requirements document (ORD) for the JSF. "We have come out with an aircraft that is green-green to the ORD within the constraints of cost and schedule," says Williams. "That was a big worry, and this is a major milestone. We have shown through simulations that we can achieve the objective of a multi-mission, multi-variant aircraft."
The F-35's mission system is being developed in a series of steps beginning with Block 0.5 and building up to Block 3.0. "The software for all the blocks is tracking the schedule," says Williams. "All the hardware is in the lab and operating with 0.5 software. Block 0.5 is the heart of the mission system integration Blocks 1 to 3 add features."