Lockheed Martin has contracted Raytheon to supply the next generation Distributed Aperture System (DAS) for the F-35 Lightning II fighter.
The DAS is a series of electro-optical apertures placed strategically around the F-35’s airframe which provide a 360-degree view of the airspace around the aircraft including terrain and threats. The imagery from the DAS is projected onto the pilot’s helmet visor, allowing the pilot to see through the aircraft in any direction by turning their head.
The aircraft’s initial AN/AAQ-37 DAS was supplied by Northrop Grumman, but that company announced it would not compete for the new version during an April earnings call.
“The supply chain competition for the next generation F-35 Distributed Aperture System resulted in significant cost savings, reliability and performance improvements,” Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, Greg Ulmer said in a statement.
“We are aggressively pursuing cost reduction across the F-35 enterprise and this initiative is a clear demonstration of our unrelenting commitment to reduce costs and deliver transformational capabilities for the warfighter.”
Lockheed Martin says the competition resulted in a 45 per cent reduction in the DAS’ unit recurring cost, and that the new version would be twice as capable as the original. The new version will be integrated with production F-35s from Lot 15 in 2023.