Monday, January 30, 2017

Blast from the past. F-35 EOTS already obsolete...

via Daily Beast (Dec 2014)
“The F-35 will, in my opinion, be 10 years behind legacy fighters when it achieves [initial operational capability],” said one Air Force official affiliated with the F-35 program. “When the F-35 achieves [initial operational capability], it will not have the weapons or sensor capability, with respect to the CAS [close air support] mission set, that legacy multi-role fighters had by the mid-2000s.”

The problem stems from the fact that the technology found on one of the stealth fighter’s primary air-to-ground sensors—its nose-mounted Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS)—is more than a decade old and hopelessly obsolete. The EOTS, which is similar in concept to a large high-resolution infrared and television camera, is used to visually identify and monitor ground targets. The system can also mark targets for laser-guided bombs.

“EOTS is a big step backwards. The technology is 10-plus years old, hasn’t been able to take advantage of all the pod upgrades in the meantime, and there were some performance tradeoffs to accommodate space and stealth,” said another Air Force official familiar with the F-35 program. “I think it’s one area where the guys are going to be disappointed in the avionics.”

Ironically, older jets currently in service with the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps can carry the latest generation of sensor pods, which are far more advanced than the EOTS sensor carried by the F-35. The latest generation pods—the Lockheed Martin Sniper ATP-SE and Northrop Grumman LITENING-SE—display far clearer high-definition video imagery in both in the infrared and optical spectrum—and from greater distances. Further, both pods have the ability to beam those full-motion video feeds to ground troops, which provides those forces with vital intelligence information.

Both pods also incorporate the ability to mark targets with an infrared laser beam—which the EOTS lacks—that helps pilots and ground controllers coordinate their attacks. Some pilots consider the infrared marker to be crucial to the close air-support mission to support ground troops. The F-35 EOTS, which is an integral component of the new stealth fighter, was envisioned as a replacement for targeting pods altogether to preserve the JSF’s stealth frame. (Targeting pods can bulge out a bit, and leak out unwanted signals.) But along with the stealth came performance compromises that also hinder the ability to upgrade the system—the specifications of which were set more that 15 years ago—far before anyone imagined a jet would be providing video imagery to ground forces.

When the Pentagon had initially drawn up the Joint Strike Fighter program’s specifications during the later half of the 1990s, the EOTS would have been bleeding-edge technology. However, in the 14 years that have passed since the Pentagon awarded Lockheed the contract to develop the F-35, technology has evolved—and the services have gained experience from over a decade of war.
Story here. 

People are so quick to forget.  Ignore the cost!  The Program Office and Lockheed Martin could make the plane cost a dollar with all the accounting gimmicks they use.


Before the plane enters service it will be obsolete.

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