Four European partners test cockpit simulator, as Norway mulls continued involvement


Lockheed Martin has concluded a four-nation European tour with its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) cockpit demonstrator, providing project partners with an opportunity to conduct simulated flights with the next-generation aircraft. The demonstrator was set up at national defence ministries and air force and naval aviation facilities in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK until late last month, when it was scheduled to return to the USA.


The F-35's cockpit has passed its Block 0.2 design freeze, with work continuing to advance this to the Block 0.3 configuration. While described by Lockheed Martin as still illustrating a generic set-up, the cockpit demonstrator has only around 25 manual switches. The remaining information is accessed using the pilot's wide-angle head-up display, the helmet-mounted display and two 250 x 200mm (10 x 8in) side-by-side head-down displays.


The top 25mm of each of these screens is used to display main flight data on a Windows-style toolbar. Later software iterations will introduce "text to speech" command and 3D audio warning capabilities. All three F-35 variants are targeted to have 100%avionics commonality, with only minor differences to be evident in the cockpit. For example, the switch used to transition the short take-off and vertical landing F-35B from the hover to forward flight will deploy the tail-hook on the F-35C carrier variant.


International involvement in the F-35 project continues to be the source of industrial disquiet in partner nations such as Denmark and Norway. Lockheed Martin officials have identified the latter country as being of particular concern, as it has yet to secure significant work under the project.


Norway is expected to announce later this month whether it will continue its Level 2 commitment to the F-35's system development and demonstration phase, or turn to a European rival such as the Eurofighter Typhoon or Saab/BAE Systems Gripen.


"We are absolutely committed to finding ways for Norwegian industry and government to move forward with this programme", says a Lockheed Martin executive. "But if they keep walking the plank saying 'We're going to jump', sooner or later they might have to."



Source: Flight International