Lockheed Martin has launched a new electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) for development of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter’s (JSF) Block 4 software.

Called Advanced EOTS, the system incorporates a wide range of enhancements and upgrades, and is designed to replace the F-35’s current EOTS platform.

These enhancements include short-wave infrared, high-definition television, an infrared marker and improved image detector resolution, and are expected to increase F-35 pilots’ recognition and detection ranges, improving overall targeting performance.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control / SOF CLSS vice-president Paul Lemmo said: "In today’s environment, threats to our warfighters continue to evolve.

"With significant capability and performance enhancements, Advanced EOTS ensures that F-35 pilots can stay ahead of these threats, detecting targets faster and at greater distances while remaining unseen."

Advanced EOTS can be installed with minimal changes to the F-35’s interface due to its similarity in shape and size to EOTS, and will be housed behind the same low-drag window, maintaining the aircraft’s stealthy profile.

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"Advanced EOTS ensures that F-35 pilots can stay ahead of these threats, detecting targets faster and at greater distances while remaining unseen."

The system was jointly developed through significant Lockheed and supplier investment, and its production is scheduled to be completed on the existing EOTS line.

Both the system and its predecessor are claimed to be the first sensors to combine forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track functionality to offer precise air-to-air and air-to-ground targeting capability.

Integrated into the F-35’s fuselage with a durable sapphire window, the EOTS is a low-drag, stealthy sensor and enhances pilots’ situational awareness, while enabling aircrews to identify areas of interest, perform reconnaissance and accurately deliver laser and GPS-guided weapons.

To date, Lockheed has supplied more than 170 EOTS systems for the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II, which is designed to conduct a wide range of ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defence missions with stealth capability.

Image: A F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft flies over Destin, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joely Santiago.