June 14 (UPI) — Lockheed Martin announced Raytheon will build imagery systems for the F-35, the latest in a string of supply chain moves related to the fifth-generation fighter.
The Distributed Aperture System, which Raytheon will deliver to Lockheed, collects high resolution, real-time imagery from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft, and sends them to the pilot’s helmet. It allows pilots to see the environment around them to detect and track threats from any angle.
Raytheon’s DAS system will be built into F-35s scheduled for delivery in 2035.
In addition to its efficacy, the selection is a means of reducing the cost of manufacturing the aircraft. A Lockheed Martin statement on Wednesday said it will result in a $3 billion savings over the life cycle of the planes, offer a 45 percent reduction in recurring costs and have twice the reliability and performance capability over the current system.
“Raytheon’s solution delivers next generation capability for the fifth generation F-35,” said Roy Azevedo, Raytheon’s vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. “Our focus is on providing pilots every tactical advantage imaginable while ensuring taxpayers receive the best value possible.”
The mounting cost of building the F-35 has been an issue for most of the project’s lifespan.
Development on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter began in 2001, with its roots extending to the 1980s. It is currently a decade behind schedule, has failed to meet its announced capabilities and will cost about $1.5 trillion by the time it is scheduled to be phased out in 2070.
At about $100 million per plane, it is twice what it was expected to cost. It has been suggested that, since $100 billion has been spent thus far on a plane with less value than expected, the Pentagon must continue to fund the project simply to keep prior funds from being regarded as wasted.
Though it has lagged behind schedule, in addition to the oft-discussed cost overruns, Lockheed on Monday announced it has delivered its 300th F-35 — an F-35A for the U.S. Air Force, which will be stationed at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
Thus far, Lockheed has delivered 197 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants, 75 F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variants and 28 F-35C carrier variants to the United States and allied foreign customers.