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QinetiQ plays key role in development of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter


The world’s most experienced aerospace industry companies, many of them UK based, are helping develop the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), an affordable 5th generation fighter for the 21st century. The programme is now at an advanced stage of development with the first conventional variant having flown on 15th December 2006 and the F35-B STOVL version having just achieved its first flight. Testing on all variants continues and initial deliveries should begin in 2010.

TeamUK F-35, of which QinetiQ is a part, brings together the best of UK industry with real commitment to use their skills to develop vital parts and systems for the JSF programme, ranging from engine and system components to ejection seats. The UK’s input also helps enhance sovereign capability and maintain an important UK skill base as the programme continues toward the production of one of the most revolutionary multi-role fighter in military aviation history.

“As a leading global defence research and technology organisation, QinetiQ continues to bring a wealth of expertise, experience and understanding to the Joint Strike Fighter programme, TeamUK F-35 and the MOD,” explained Andy Sweetman, key accounts director for QinetiQ’s air business. “In addition to playing a key role in the development of the fundamental flight control laws and a computer aided flight system, QinetiQ with its human factors experience, provides input to many aspects of the man / machine interface and pilot systems including instrumentation and helmet mounted displays. As an integral part of TeamUK F-35, QinetiQ is increasingly supporting operational analysis and concept of operations activities and working directly with the MOD, QinetiQ is providing critical advice on various areas of the programme including the provision of the essential elements of the Release to Service activity and provides access to a broad spectrum of test and evaluation services.

“Looking to the future, QinetiQ is putting forward other aspects of its expertise that could support the MOD and contribute to the development of TeamUK F-35 in a wide variety of areas that include flight simulation, training, weapons systems development and through life platform management,” he concluded.

The UK was the first international partner and the programme is expected to support thousands of skilled jobs and bring billions of pounds of investment to the country. Goodrich, Martin-Baker, QinetiQ, Ultra Electronics, MBDA, Cobham, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and GE are just some of the companies involved. In turn, these and others companies are working alongside teams from other international partner countries – Italy, The Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway with Israel and Singapore as Security Cooperation Participants – to bring tremendous expertise to the overall JSF programme.

Drawing on each company’s individual knowledge, expertise and skills, TeamUK F-35 has successfully demonstrated it can bring together its world-class capabilities and contribute to producing a world-class fighter with unmatched accuracy across several time zones and facilities.

This truly transformational single engine F-35 Lightning II is produced in three variants to meet mission needs: conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL), short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) and carrier variant (CV). Each 5th generation F‑35 variant integrates stealth into a supersonic, highly agile aircraft and is uniquely designed to operate from different environments. All three variants set new standards in net-enabled mission systems, sensor fusion, supportability and maintainability.

F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing Variant (CTOL)

In the battlespace of the future, knowledge is power, and the F-35 will be the smartest of them all. The conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A is the primary export version of the F-35. This variant uses standard runways for takeoffs and landing and is the first fighter in history specifically designed to be a key node in a system of systems - a lethal information gatherer and transmitter in a vast network.

F-35B Short Take-Off Vertical Landing Variant (STOVL)

For the first time in military aviation history, supersonic, radar-evading stealth comes with short takeoff / vertical landing (STOVL) capability. Combined with its unique basing flexibility and advanced net-enabled mission systems, these features provide unequalled multi-mission capability across the spectrum of warfare. Primary customers will be the US Marine Corps, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy in the UK, and the Italian Air Force and Navy.

F-35C Carrier Variant (CV)

The US Navy’s first-ever stealth aircraft operates from the service’s large carriers via catapult launch and arrested recovery. Larger wings and control surfaces and the addition of wingtip ailerons allow the F-35C pilot to control the airplane with precision during carrier approaches. The aircraft incorporates larger landing gear and a stronger internal structure to withstand the forces of carrier launches and recoveries. Ruggedised exterior materials mean low maintenance requirements for preserving the aircraft’s very low observable radar signature, even in harsh shipboard conditions.


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