baseline/legacy EOTS is a low-drag, stealthy multi-function system integrated into the F-35’s fuselage that the company
touts as an affordable, high-performance, lightweight system that provides precision air-to-air and air-to-surface targeting
capability. Says Lockheed Martin: “As the first sensor to combine forward-looking infrared and infrared
search and track functionality, 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. LMCO has delivered more than 170 EOTS
units for the F-35 to date.
Lockheed Martin has now
offering to the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) what is calls Advanced EOTS, an evolutionary upgrade of the EOTS (completed
circa 2002) that the company believes can be available for the F-35’s Block 4 development, presently scheduled to roll
out in the 2019-2020 timeframe.
Designed to replace EOTS, and in response
to the evolving threat, Advanced EOTS has a larger aperture and incorporates a range of enhancements and upgrades, including
short-wave infrared (SWIR), high-definition television, an infrared marker and significantly improved image detector resolution.
These enhancements, which leverage off-the-shelf technology and DoD tech base investment including USAF investment in focal
plane arrays, will increase F-35 pilots’ recognition and detection ranges, enabling greater overall targeting performance.
Due to its similarity in shape and size to EOTS, LMCO notes that AEOTS can be installed
with minimal changes to the F-35’s interface. It will be housed behind the same low-drag window (see photo, right),
maintaining the F-35’s stealthy profile. Advanced EOTS production – if the F-35 program elects to procure it --
will be completed on the current EOTS line. Don
Bolling, Lockheed Martin’s Fire Control BD Director told DSJ that the AEOTS system, funded over the past five years
via internal LMCO and supplier investment, is now at a Technology Readiness Level of 4 (i.e., component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment), with a demonstration
planned to move the AEOTS system from TRL 4 to TRL 6 (representative system flying on a surrogate aircraft) in early 2017.