Collaborative Efforts Yield Essential Data, Reduce Risk During Early CATBird JPALS Testing
Teamwork between government and industry teams advanced the Navy’s capability to recover aircraft in all weather conditions — a vital solution aimed at protecting people and equipment while enhancing the flexibility, power projection, and strike capabilities of carrier air wings.
The F-35 Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATBird), a modified Boeing 737-330, accomplished initial connectivity and datalink testing between the F-35 Lightning II and a Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) test facility at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in 2014.
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Over the past three months, the Landing Systems Test Facility also hosted CATBird to prepare for the second developmental test (DT-II) ship trials of the F-35C Lightning II scheduled for later this year.
“Initial testing with the JPALS ship system was very successful and met F-35 Lightning II primary test objectives,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Taylor, co-lead for the JPALS Integrated Product Team at the Naval Air Traffic Management Systems (PMA-213) program office. “Follow-on testing in April and May was also successful in capturing essential data that will deliver F-35 UDB risk reduction to developmental testing with the JPALS ship system.”
A key feature of the former commercial airliner is its ability to transport a team of test engineers in its flying laboratory specially equipped to integrate, test, and validate mission systems avionics for the F-35 Lightning II. The use of CATBird enables the team to test mission systems in a dynamic environment and apply real-time modifications the same day or even hours after a test flight.
At present, CATBird is supporting the development of software scheduled for release this year. The software is part of the Block 3F software build for upcoming F-35B/C developmental and operational tests.
The F-35 is currently integrating the UHF Data Broadcast (UDB) radio with the JPALS ship system as an interim solution during development of an auto-land capability into the JPALS ship system. This capability will allow the Navy to recover aircraft in all-weather conditions by removing human error from the carrier landing process.
To date, UDB tests have been a success due to the collaboration between PMA-213 and industry partners, Taylor noted.
Source : Naval Air Systems Command - view original press release