Northrop Grumman has delivered the 1,000th AN/AAQ-37 distributed aperture system (DAS) for installation on-board the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.

The AN/AAQ-37 DAS is a 360° spherical situational awareness system that is designed to provide the F-35 pilot with a capability to autonomously detect and track aircraft and missiles in every direction, while projecting video directly into the pilot’s helmet mounted display and eliminating cockpit obscurities.

The system comprises of six electro-optical sensors. It also offers fire control capability and precision tracking of wingmen / friendly aircraft for tactical manoeuvring, in addition to supporting the navigation function of the F-35’s forward-looking infrared sensor.

Northrop Grumman F-35 Radar and DAS programmes director David Partridge said: "With 1,000 sensors delivered, we have demonstrated the maturity and affordability of our DAS technology.

"The AN/AAQ-37 DAS system provides fifth generation awareness and protection unparalleled in legacy aircraft."

"The system provides fifth generation awareness and protection unparalleled in legacy aircraft, and continues to show its versatility and applicability to a wide range of additional missions and platforms."

The AN/AAQ-37 DAS has already demonstrated the ability to expand into additional missions and platforms, including ballistic missile defence, hostile ground fire detection and unmanned aircraft operations.

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DAS flight demonstrations have included tracking a rocket to a distance of more than 800m.

As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop also develops the F-35’s AN/APG-81 radar and communications subsystems avionics, produces the centre fuselage and also develops mission systems and mission-planning software.

Furthermore, the company leads the team’s development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware, in addition to managing the team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.

The F-35 is a fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft that is manufactured by Lockheed and designed to conduct an array of ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defence missions with stealth capability.