Considerable work behind the scenes goes into keeping the F-35 in the air and ready to support pilots and their missions. Part of that effort includes decreasing costs of aircraft sustainment.
Lockheed Martin has reduced the sustainment cost per flight hour for the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) and Distributed Aperture System (DAS) Window Panels for the F-35 by 25 percent since last year.
The reduction is part of the overall initiative to improve F-35 mission capable rates and reduce sustainment costs for the F-35 to less than $25,000 by 2025. As part of the multi-year Performance Based Logistics (PBL) contract that was introduced in mid-2019, Lockheed Martin has implemented long-term cost reduction strategies and improved efficiencies. With these strategies, the team has achieved a 15 percent reduction in repair turnaround times and a 96 percent reduction in Mission Impaired Capability Awaiting Parts (MICAPs).
“We’re taking aggressive actions to ensure continued cost reduction and increased availability of our F-35 products,” said Brett Rolston, director of F-35 Sensors at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “With F-35 production increasing year after year, it is vital that we drive reliability improvements into the sensors while driving sustainment costs down to meet customer expectations.”
Improvements are not anticipated to end any time soon. The team is working to expedite depot test equipment configuration updates and increase repair capabilities at F-35 military service depots. This will continue to reduce the cost per flight hour even further.
EOTS is the first sensor to combine forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track functionality to provide F-35 pilots with precise air-to-air and air-to-ground targeting capability. EOTS enhances F-35 pilots’ situational awareness and allows aircrews to identify areas of interest, perform reconnaissance and precisely deliver laser and GPS-guided weapons.
Advanced EOTS, an evolutionary electro-optical targeting system, is available for the F-35’s Block 4 development. Designed to replace EOTS, Advanced EOTS incorporates a wide range of enhancements and upgrades, including short-wave infrared, high-definition television, an infrared marker and improved image detector resolution. These enhancements increase F-35 pilots’ recognition and detection ranges, enabling greater overall targeting performance.
Of note, Advanced EOTS will provide more than $1 billion in life cycle cost savings. This next evolution of the EOTS sensor continues Lockheed Martin’s commitment to lowering the cost of F-35 Sensors.
The DAS Window Panel consists of six low-observable, infrared transparent windows for Electro-Optical (EO) DAS sensors on the F-35. Each shipset of windows enables the EODAS sensor to provide threat detection and 360-degree situational awareness to the pilot.
Celebrating Production Milestones
Lockheed Martin is scheduled to make its 700th EOTS delivery in mid-September, supporting the increasing F-35 production demands.
Earlier this year, the team delivered its 5,000th DAS Window Panel, marking a significant milestone as deliveries continue at more than 100 DAS Window Panels per month.
“Ultimately, it comes down to following our Lockheed Martin values of doing what’s right, respecting others and performing with excellence for our customer,” Rolston said. “Meeting our delivery commitments and ensuring the highest quality products are delivered to our customers is our focus."