To assist the UK’s Armed Forces in preparing for operating Typhoon and F-35 together in 2018, a series of live simulated mission scenarios are taking place involving the latest standards of F-35 and Typhoon aircraft.
The latest scenario saw four F-35 aircraft operating alongside two Typhoons and an E3D Sentry, each simulator equipped with the latest representative mission system from the aircraft. The trial was the fourth of its kind linking simulation facilities from multiple UK locations to create a common synthetic environment to evaluate F-35 interoperability with other UK platforms.
In the mission the F-35 aircraft and Typhoons were tasked via digital datalink by the E3D Sentry crew to investigate threats in a defined location. The F-35s first located the threats and then conducted an attack against a range of fixed and moving ground targets. At the same time the Typhoons were tasked by the E3D to engage several hostile air threats. Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots flew the four F-35 aircraft from Lockheed Martin supplied desktop simulators at our site in Samlesbury, Lancashire. A Typhoon instructor pilot and one of our test pilots linked in from two Typhoon simulators at RAF Leuchars and two E3D Sentry crew joined the scenario from the Sentry lab at RAF Waddington.
Lt Cdr Mark Humphries, Air Warfare Centre Waddington, who took part in the trials said: “The exercise today has been valuable in helping us to begin to understand how F-35B will execute an armed reconnaissance mission. Later in this decade the UK will be operating a combined fleet of Typhoon and F-35. It’s important that we put in the groundwork now to help inform the Concept of Operations and ensure the interoperability of both platforms.”
Our Chief Test Pilot Mark Bowman, who was one of two Typhoon pilots conducting the trial, said: “Over recent years, I’ve seen the relevance of the high-fidelity synthetic environment improve dramatically. It continues to be an increasingly important tool for both training pilots and platform crews, and also the development of new capabilities; we strive to provide our customers with the right balance of synthetic and live training. In the exercise today, we have been able to fully exercise the very latest capabilities for both Typhoon and F-35. Amongst other representative mission tasks, we’ve been able to exercise interoperability as per a live mission scenario by passing some commands, targets and threat information via digital datalinks in real-time.”
Tony Hall, our Programme Manager for the F-35 Interoperability trials, added “This is the fourth trial we have held to date, putting F-35 into a variety of increasingly complex mission scenarios. Not only does this help the UK customer get their heads around how the F-35 will integrate into operations, but it saves money and time by allowing refinements to be made in the design and development phase of the program and informing plans for future upgrades.”
He continued: “The benefits from these trials reach beyond F-35. As a result of the maritime scenario we ran just a few months ago, improvements to the Type 45 Destroyers and Queen Elizabeth Class Carrier Link 16 datalink and Combat Management Systems were identified and will soon be implemented. This builds on the benefits already seen in earlier trials within the programme which identified enhancements to the E3D Sentry that are also being implemented.”
We are responsible for leading F-35 integration activities on behalf of the UK’s Armed Forces. A second series of trials is due to commence later in 2014 which will see the addition of land assets and operators and the inclusion of air-to-ground datalinks into a range of scenarios.