Lockheed Martin is moving into implementation of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pilot training system following completion of the critical design review, but construction of the first integrated training centre (ITC) at Eglin AFB in Florida is slipping.

Because of delays to an environmental impact study, Lockheed now plans to establish an interim facility at Eglin to meet the requirement to begin pilot training by February 2010, when the first two production F-35As for the US Air Force are to arrive.

Training hardware and software to be produced under the F-35 system development and demonstration contract is still planned for delivery to the Elgin ITC, says deputy programme manager Matt Robinson. Instead, the interim centre will receive equipment procured as part of the first F-35 low-rate initial production batch, he says.

The pilot training suite includes full-mission simulator, desktop trainers, classrooms, courseware and management software. More than 2 million lines of actual aircraft software will be reused in the simulators, plus another million from other Lockheed programmes, requiring fewer than a million lines of new code to be written for the training system, Robinson says.

Eglin will train pilots on all three F-35 versions, for US and international operators. Training on the second variant, the US Marine Corps' short take-off and vertical landing F-35B, is scheduled to begin in October 2010.

The first international customers, the Netherlands and the UK, plan to get their initial aircraft in 2011, to participate in operational testing, and will train pilots at Eglin.

Robinson says the UK is the only international partner to have funded preliminary design of its own ITC under the SDD contract.

Australia has awarded Lockheed a separate contract to analyse throughput and sizing of an ITC and Canada is also interested in its own pilot training centre, he says, while Turkey and several other partners are interested in having their own maintenance training capability. All the centres would use the same modular suite of training equipment, he says.

Source: Flight International