A capability as complex as the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) isn’t something you buy, deliver, fly and forget about.
With advanced sensors, data fusion capabilities and stealth, the aircraft’s ability to share information with other air, land, sea and space-based platforms makes it the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world.
For this reason, the global F-35 enterprise is working collaboratively to ensure an effective modernisation strategy is delivered for the life of the aircraft to ensure continued interoperability, lethality and survivability against evolving threats.
The F-35 Modernisation strategy, known as Continuous Capability Development and Delivery, aims to improve the performance and supportability of the capability beyond the completion of the System Development and Demonstration phase of the global F-35 Program.
Project Director Mission Systems Stephen McDonald, of the JSF Division, said the US F-35 Joint Program Office-led F-35 Modernisation strategy would implement upgrades incrementally through the aircraft’s life cycle, rather than relying on major mid-life upgrades.
“The initial strategy was for software-related modifications every two years, with combined software and hardware modifications every four years,” Mr McDonald said.
“This approach has evolved, permitting the ability to provide rapid modernisation, enhancements and improvements to the F-35 air system with relatively small, relevant capability drops on predictable compressed cycles with a strategy of six-monthly increments.
“The composition of each increment will depend on any identified deficiencies – with a focus on a ‘whole of air system’ delivery approach.”
He said the revised strategy provided for a more rapid and dynamic developmental approach that aligned with Plan Jericho.
F-35 Modernisation will be performed throughout the life of the F-35 capability by implementing upgrades that will address a number of issues, including:
• mandated regulatory compliance upgrades
• new and enhanced capabilities to maintain viability against evolving threats
• correction of selected System Development and Demonstration deficiencies and deferrals
• upgrades to reduce life cycle costs
• upgrades to improve operational suitability.