Again, when LM says they have delivered a "mission systems" or "production representative" aircraft, it needs qualification. For example, EOTS is yet to be integrated fully into the F-35 airframe as a functional system.
Lockheed Martin Conducts First Flight of F-35 Electro-Optical Targeting System on Cooperative Avionics Test Bed
ORLANDO, Fla., Aug. 16 /PRNewswire/ — Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has successfully conducted the first flight of the F-35 Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) on the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATBird) platform. EOTS maturation on the CATBird is the final step prior to integration on the BF-4, the first mission systems-equipped F-35 test aircraft.
"The CATBird’s dynamic flight environment provides the first opportunity to test and evaluate how EOTS integrates into the F-35′s fused sensor architecture," said Rich Hinkle, program director of F-35 EOTS at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "After three years of rigorous testing on the Sabreliner aircraft, EOTS is more than ready for CATBird integration and we’re excited to reach this important milestone."
The CATBird, a modified 737 aircraft, contains an actual F-35 cockpit and test stations to perform real-time analysis as mission systems are evaluated. The CATBird also provides the capability to fuse sensor information, which mimics how the F-35′s fused sensor architecture will offer pilots higher quality, shared sensor information compared with legacy platforms’ federated sensor architectures. During the current Block 1.0 software system test, EOTS operated in an integrated mode and collected aircraft navigation data for sensor alignment.
The low drag, stealthy F-35 EOTS builds upon the success of Lockheed Martin’s Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod to provide high-resolution imagery, automatic target tracking, infrared-search-and-track, laser designation and range finding, as well as laser spot tracking – all at greatly increased standoff ranges. Modular components allow the F-35 EOTS to be maintained on the flight line for true two-level maintenance.