On June 3, 2019, Lockheed Martin published an interesting 360-degree video walkaround of the F-35, hosted by Tony “Brick” Wilson, the test pilot that conducted the first F-35C carrier landing.
In this video, recorded around a Royal Norwegian Air Force’s F-35 in Fort Worth, Wilson explains some of the most important systems, adding also some less known insights.
Wilson points out some of the less well-known aspects of the fifth generation stealth fighter, including the aircraft’s armament capability, sensors, and engine performance.
The F-35 was the second fifth-generation fighter to fly. As Wilson points out fifth generation jets are not just defined by stealth but by the ability to fuse sensor data together and present it to the pilot in a useful way.
Wilson starts off by showing off the Electro-Optical Targeting System, or EOTS. EOTS is composed of two subsystems, TFLIR (Targeting Forward Looking Infra-Red) and DAS (Distributed Aperture System). Those systems, together with the APG-81 radar, allow the pilot to locate, track and target enemy aircraft, ground vehicles or any other target in both day and night and in all weather conditions. The pilot can use it to visually acquire the target and employ weapons autonomously in the Laser Targeting mode or even detect targets lased by other aircraft or troops on the ground in the Laser Spot Track mode.
Related Article: Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Stealth Fighter Cockpit Demonstrator Hands-On
The Distributed Aperture System is a network of six cameras around the aircraft that provide a 360-degree field of view to the pilot, giving him also the ability to see through the aircraft structure, thanks to the imagery projected onto the helmet’s visor.
Here the Video Make sure to watch it in 4K if you can.
The best part of the video, however, is when Wilson uses the 360-degree nature of the video to show how the F-35 helmet projects an augmented reality view across the pilot’s field of view.
The video simulates the viewer actually sitting in the F-35 cockpit, with colored icons denoting aircraft in the and targets on the ground. This allows the pilot to maintain situational awareness while continuing to remain focused on flying the aircraft.
Related Article: $400,000 F-35 Helmet – Pilot can See Through Plane
In the end, Wilson goes on to describe weapons. The F-35A has a single internal 25-millimetre gun and can carry a total of four air-to-air missiles in two internal weapons bays. It can also carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, one on each wingtip.
Alternately it can carry a variety of air to ground munitions inside the bays, including JDAM satellite-guided and Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The F-35 has four wing-mounted weapons stations, with the two inner stations rated to carry bombs up to 5,000 pounds.
Image Credits: Lockheed Martin Youtube Channel
Next generation fighters with laser-reflecting ablative ceramics, perhaps ?