A US Air Force F-35, attached to the 461st Flight Test Squadron, has successfully completed the first flight of an F-35 in the Technology Refresh 3 (TR-3) configuration at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
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The 50-minute flight, which took the jet to 35,000 feet at speeds just shy of the speed of sound above the Mojave Desert, marked the start of an extensive flight test campaign that will continue in 2023.
US Air Force Lieutenant General Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office, welcomed the milestone achievement for the development life cycle of the F-35 program, saying, “This is a significant achievement for the F-35 program.
“TR-3 is the F-35’s critical computer processing electronics upgrade that will continue to provide all our pilots with the capability they need to be successful against any adversary,” Lt Gen Schmidt added.
The TR-3 program provides the computational horsepower to support modernised Block 4 capabilities including new sensor suites, more long-range precision weapons, improved electronic warfare features, more powerful data fusion, and increased cross-platform interoperability.
Additionally, these capabilities will provide the F-35 warfighter a combat edge to identify, track, engage, and survive against advanced air, ground, and cyber threats. TR-3 significantly updates core processing power and memory capacity, which will allow the F-35 to run advanced software packed with state-of-the-art warfighting capabilities.
The TR-3 process hasn’t been without its challenges, with the program overcoming a number of technical complexity challenges with hardware and software. Now on-track, TR-3 is expected to deliver capability to the US and its F-35 operating allies starting in 2023.
The government and industry team continue to find innovative ways to ensure delivery of critical capabilities to defeat future threats. Lessons learned in the execution of the TR-3 program will be applied across the entire Block 4 modernisation program.
Lt Gen Schmidt expanded on these points, stating, “There is still a lot of work to do, and I am confident that our industry partners and government team will get the job done.”
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is billed as a catalyst for the fifth-generation revolution, changing the face and capability of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the wider Australian Defence Force (ADF).
For the RAAF, the F-35A’s combination of full-spectrum, low-observable stealth coatings and materials, advanced radar-dispersing shaping, network-centric sensor and communications suites — combined with a lethal strike capability — means the aircraft will be the ultimate force multiplying, air-combat platform.