September 13, 2016 - Two pre-eminent weapon systems, the F-35 Lightning II and Aegis Weapon System, worked together for the first time during a live fire exercise. The joint Lockheed Martin, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps exercise was the first live fire missile event that successfully demonstrated the integration of the F-35 to support Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA).
During the Sept. 12 test, an unmodified U.S. Marine Corps F-35B from the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1, acted as an elevated sensor and detected an over-the-horizon threat. The F-35B sent data through the aircraft's Multi-Function Advanced Data Link (MADL) to a ground station connected to the Aegis Weapon System on the USS Desert Ship (LLS-1), a land-based ship. The target was subsequently engaged and intercepted by a Standard Missile 6.
"One of the key defining attributes of a 5th Generation fighter is the force multiplier effect it brings to joint operations through its foremost sensor fusion and external communications capabilities," said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "Those attributes were successfully proven at White Sands Missile Range in a very realistic demonstration of distributed lethality leveraging a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B and the U.S. Navy's Aegis Weapon System. This only scratches the surface of the potential warfighting capabilities F-35 aircraft will ultimately enable across our military forces."
This capability, when fully realized, will significantly increase the warfighters' situational awareness using Aegis and the F-35 together to better understand the maritime operational environment. Using any variant of the F-35 as a broad area sensor, the aircraft can significantly increase the Aegis capability to detect, track and engage.
"NIFC-CA is a game changer for the U.S. Navy that extends the engagement range we can detect, analyze and intercept targets," said Dale Bennett, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. "The F-35 and Aegis Weapon System demonstration brings us another step closer to realizing the true potential and power of the worldwide network of these complex systems to protect and support warfighters, the home front and U.S. allies."
Aegis Baseline 9 delivers a fully open architecture system on U.S. destroyers and is the basis for current and future Aegis Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD). Baseline 9 is being fielded on in-service destroyers, new construction destroyers and Aegis Ashore. The Aegis Common Source Library-enabled derivatives are on the Coast Guard cutters, Freedom variant Littoral Combat Ships and will be included on the upcoming frigate ships.
As a proven world leader in systems integration and development of air and missile defense systems and technologies, Lockheed Martin delivers high-quality missile defense solutions that protect citizens, critical assets and deployed forces from current and future threats. The company's experience spans missile design and production, hit-to-kill capabilities, infrared seekers, command and control/battle management, and communications, precision pointing and tracking optics, radar and signal processing, as well as threat-representative targets for missile defense tests.