Ft. Worth, TX--Keying on its F-16, Lockheed Martin is pushing technology in two programs. The effort to develop the X-35 demonstrators for its Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) design saw flights by the Calspan (Buffalo, NY) operated Variable stability In-flight Simulator Test Aircraft (VISTA). The aircraft computers were reprogrammed to fly with the same dynamic response as envisioned for the JSF in order to evaluate and refine flight-control software. Evaluation maneuvers included simulated aircraft carrier landing approaches, aerial refueling, air-to-air combat tracking, and formation flying.
Assembly has also begun at the company's famous Skunk Works on the first of two X-35 demonstrators. For this, an "agile tooling" concept is being used to both assemble and mate aircraft components in the same tools. The first aircraft reaches final assembly later this year, to be followed immediately by the second in the same tools, for airframe commonality.
Lockheed Martin is teamed with Northrop Grumman and British Aerospace in developing its JSF design in competition with a Boeing-led group. The first of about 3,000 aircraft are scheduled to enter service in 2008 for U.S. forces and the Royal Navy (DN 2/17/97, p. 19).
Elsewhere, Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has awarded Lockheed Martin a second major contract to continue component manufacture for that country's F-2 ground attack fighter. The agreement covers eight aircraft to follow the initial production of 11 of the airplanes--codeveloped by the two companies using the F-16 as a design baseline. F-2 features include: cocured carbon-composite wing having greater span and root chord than the F-16s, with a tapered trailing edge; slightly larger and longer radome; and longer aft fuselage.
While F-2 internal systems are Japanese designs, 40% of production work is U.S.-based. Lockheed Martin, principal U.S. subcontractor, provides eight out of 10 left-hand wing boxes, and all the aft fuselage, wing leading-edge flaps, and stores management sets. The company also furnishes avionics support systems and ground and on-board equipment. Total planned procurement is 130 F-2s, with deliveries running from 2000 to beyond 2010.