BAE Systems has conducted a live simulated mission exercise using the latest configurations of F-35 Lightning II and Typhoon fighter aircraft at its facilities in the UK.
Involving four F-35s, two Typhoons and one E3D Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) simulator, the trial was the fourth in the series aimed at helping the UK armed forces in their preparation for joint Typhoon and F-35 operation in 2018.
BAE Systems F-35 interoperability trials programme manager Tony Hall said: "Not only does this help the UK customer get their heads around how the F-35 will integrate into operations, but it saves money and time by allowing refinements to be made in the design and development phase of the programme and informing plans for future upgrades."
During the exercise, two E3D Sentry simulators from the Sentry lab at Royal Air Force (RAF) Waddington, directed F-35 aircraft and Typhoons through a digital datalink to investigate threats in a defined location.
The F-35 fighters first located the potential threats and subsequently conducted an attack against an array of fixed and moving ground targets.
E3D simultaneously tasked the Typhoons to engage multiple hostile air threats.
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The Lockheed Martin-supplied F-35 desktop simulators were operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots. A company test pilot and a Typhoon instructor pilot operated the simulators at RAF Leuchars.
Air Warfare Centre Waddington source lieutenant commander Mark Humphries said the exercise has helped the military understand how F-35B will execute an armed reconnaissance mission.
"Later in this decade the UK will be operating a combined fleet of Typhoon and F-35. It’s important that we put in the groundwork now to help inform the Concept of Operations and ensure the interoperability of both platforms," Humphries said.
The company is planning to start a second series of trials by adding land assets and operators, in addition to air-to-ground datalinks, later this year.
Image: The joint operations of F-35 Lightning II and Typhoon aircraft are scheduled for 2018. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.