The initial flight-ready integrated communications, navigation and identification (CNI) system for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter has been delivered by Northrop Grumman.

The CNI system will offer the F-35s integrated functions equivalent to over 40 avionics subsystem functions, reducing the size and weight of the fighter.

The functions include identification friend or foe (IFF), automatic acquisition of fly-to points and various voice and data communications such as the multifunction advanced data link approved by the US Department of Defense for use on all low-observable platforms.

Northrop Grumman’s information systems sector vice president of network communication systems Roger Fujii said that this was only the first of many integrated systems for the F-35 aircraft.

“We have been pleased with our system’s performance on the CATBird [Lockheed Martin’s joint strike fighter cooperative avionics test bed], and those flight tests give us high confidence in the next-generation communications capabilities we continue to bring to the warfighter,” said Fujii.

The system has incorporated the joint tactical radio system software design, fitted with ultra-high-frequency / very-high-frequency receive and transmit, IFF transponder, radar altimeter, tactical air navigation, system hardware and software diagnostics.

Approval has been gained for flying these systems on-board the first mission-system-equipped F-35 aircraft in mid-2009 after successful flight tests.

F-35 is a supersonic, multirole, fifth generation stealth fighter with three variants that include conventional take-off and landing craft for the US Air Force, and the carrier variant and short take-off / vertical landing fighter for the UK Royal Air Force.