Rockwell Collins has completed the production of 100th optical assembly for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter’s electro-optical distributed aperture system (EO/DAS) in Sydney, Australia.
Built by Northrop Grumman, the AN/AAQ-37 EO/DAS is a spherical situational awareness system that is designed to warn the pilot of the incoming aircraft and missile threats.
The system also provides day/night vision, fire control capability and precision tracking of wingmen/friendly aircraft for tactical manoeuvring.
The EO/DAS can detect and track missiles, in addition to providing launch point detection and weapons support.
During his visit to Rockwell's Sydney facility, Australia Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said: "Rockwell Collins’ performance on the programme is proof that Australian manufacturing can compete with the best in the world and Australia’s ambition to grow the local defence industry is highlighted by this milestone."
Rockwell Collins Australia plans to produce more than 7,000 optical assemblies across the life of the F-35 programme, representing 40% of the global production.
Commenting on the achievement, Rockwell Collins Australia managing director Nick Gibbs said: “Over the past 10 years we have focused on building the capability to support the F-35 in Australia.
“The skills and expertise we have built at our company’s operations have been integral to the local capability we have developed for the Australian Defence Force, such as the Army’s Digital Terminal Control System.”
The company said it has also been successful in competing for maintenance work on the Australian F-35 and is planning to increase its footprint to include manufacturing capacity for critical test equipment that will be required by Australian and partner countries.
Image: Australia Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne visits Rockwell Collins' Sydney facility. Photo: courtesy of Rockwell Collins.