Harris has been selected by Lockheed Martin to upgrade the F-35 Lightning II mission system avionics, in a bid to improve the aircraft’s data storage, display processing, and throughput capabilities.

The improvements are being carried out as part of the F-35 Block 4 follow-on modernisation programme, also known as Technology Refresh #3 (TR3).

Harris will provide the aircraft memory system (AMS) and Panoramic cockpit display electronic unit (PCD EU) based on open architecture and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology.

The AMS enables solid-state mass storage capability for the F-35 aircraft avionics subsystems, and PCD EU provides processing for the panoramic head-down display in the cockpit.

According to Harris, AMS acts as the repository for avionics operational flight programmes, mission and theatre data, as well as prognostics and health data. It also deposits audio, display video, and aircraft parametric data.

"Open systems are the future of avionics and Harris is investing substantial R&D to develop these solutions."

Harris Electronic Systems president Ed Zoiss said: “The new TR3 electronics pave the way for system upgrades well into the future.

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“Open systems are the future of avionics and Harris is investing substantial R&D to develop these solutions. These awards affirm the military’s approach to open systems architecture and Harris’ commitment to delivering more affordable, higher performance solutions than would have been possible using proprietary technology.”

Harris will begin the technology development phase this June and a system qualification phase in early 2019.

The company’s avionics and ruggedised open systems mission processing technology already support the F-35, F-22, and F/A-18.

Image: Electro-optical target sensor (EOTS) on a mock-up of the F-35. Photo: courtesy of Dammit.