Research Participation in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Program


  1. Introduction
  2. Background on the JSF Project
  3. JSF Part of a System
  4. Research Areas
  5. Further Information on the JSF

    See Also

  6. Other Information Technology
  7. Home


JSF Image from Lockheed Martin Corporation

The Australian Government is looking to replace the Royal Australian Air Force's F/A-18 Hornet and F-111 military fighter aircraft with the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). In 2002 joined the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the JSF program. This allows Australian industry to compete for JSF work, and also Australian researchers to assist in the project.

Background on the JSF Project

The Joint Strike Fighter is being designed by Lockheed Martin (USA) with BAE Systems (UK). Three variants are being developed:

It will be a multi-role strike fighter (a plane with a strong emphasis on close air support and tactical bombing as well as being capable of air-to-air combat), and will make considerable use of stealth technology in that it will be almost undetectable (stealthy) to X-band radars (short-range tracking systems) in the forward hemisphere but not particularly stealthy in the rear hemisphere and not stealthy to L-band radars (long-range search systems) in either hemisphere.

From: "F-35 Joint Strike Fighter", Wikipedia, 2006

The aircraft will conduct net centric operations, using information fusion, with features such as a wide screen 8 by 20 inch cockpit display. Radios on the F-35 can be software programmed to provide a wide range of communications capabilities (including Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System - SINCGARS, HAVE QUICK and JPALS).

The JSF Program is expected to deliver about 2600 aircraft to the US and UK alone and potentially a further 1000+ aircraft to the current international Partners and third party customers. The JSF is the first international collaborative development program for a US military aircraft. As well as the US, there are eight international Partners participating in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Program.

Australia is expected to acquire up to 100 JSF aircraft to replace the capability currently provided by the F-111 and F/A-18. To achieve first deliveries in 2012, Australia's order for aircraft needs to be placed in 2008.

From: "F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program - Fact Sheet", Australian Department of Defence, May 2006"

JSF Part of a System

More so than previous aircraft, the F-35 is intended to be part of a system. This allows for areas of research by companies, research organizations and universities beyond those previously involved in aerospace and defence applications. In particular the JSF project has a high information technology component, with its integrated sensor suite for fused situational awareness. The integration of the F-35 into a Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) will require research in a number of disciplines.

"On the surface, Network Centric Warfare (NCW) is a simple concept that involves the linkage of engagement systems to sensors through networks and the sharing of information between force elements. Consequently, much of the discussion and early development of the concept revolved around connecting information systems and creating software applications that allow people to use the available data. However, NCW is also based on the idea that information is only useful if it allows people to act more effectively: this makes the human dimension fundamental to NCW."

From: "Science and Technology for Australian Network-Centric Warfare: Function, Form and Fit", Tim McKenna, Terry Moon, Richard Davis and Leoni Warne, Australian Defence Force Journal, July 2006

The US version of the F-35 is intended to use Link-16 protocols to communicate with other aircraft and Air Defense Assets, satellites for Beyond Line of Sight communication, PHM Datalinks to ships, and the Joint Variable Message Format (JVMF), Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), to army land elements.

... the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is merely the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, it is misleading to consider the JSF in isolation from other air capabilities, notably airborne early warning and control aircraft (AEW&C), the Jindalee Over-The-Horizon system, air-to-air refuelling platforms, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and the network of forward-operating bases situated across northern Australia.

A Perspective on Australian Grand Strategy, General Peter Cosgrove, Australian Army Journal, Land Warfare Studies Centre, 2005, Volume III, Number 1

JSF and Wedgetail AEW&C Aircraft

Boeing Wedgetail photo from Wikipedia

Boeing Wedgetail

A major task for Australia will be to integrate the F-35 to the new Boeing Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft.

The Boeing Wedgetail is an aircraft designed in response to Australia's RFP to vendors for an Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft (and supporting segments) for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). In 1997, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems was awarded a contract to supply four AEW&C aircraft (whose design is based on the 737-700IGW), with Australia having the option to increase the order by three additional aircraft. ...

The aircraft uses the Northrop Grumman Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and control systems. The radar is located on a dorsal fin on top of the fuselage, dubbed the "top hat", and is designed for minimal aerodynamic effect. The radar is capable of simultaneous air and sea search, fighter control and area search. Other modifications include ventral fins to counterbalance the radar and countermeasures mounted on the nose, wingtips and tail. The cabin features eight operator consoles with sufficient space for four more; the Australian fleet will operate ten consoles with space for two more.

From: "Boeing Wedgetail", Wikipedia, 2006

JSF and Landing Helicopter Dock Ships

Navantia Landing Helicopter Dock ship, Copyright Navantia, 10 August 2005

Navantia LHD

In addition to integration with Wedgetail, the F-35 will require to be interfaced to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other Defence systems including the Project JP2048 Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships. Even if the ships are not equipped to operate the aircraft it is likely their Project SEA 1442 Phase 3 Maritime Communications and Information Management Architecture Modernisation (MCIMAM), communications system will need to be able to receive information from the aircraft.

Australia has not made a decision as to which variant of the F-35 to purchase. In the past Australia has purchased longer range US carrier aircraft for land use, suggesting the F-35C. The design of the F-35C was changed, further extending its range.

One recent change to the CV aircraft was an increase in wing size to reduce carrier recovery speed. This and other changes to increase fuel capacity and reduce drag pushed the F-35C's radius of action close to 1,300km (700nm) - "100nm more than the requirement" ...

From: "Future fighter, Graham Warwick, Flight International, 27 June 2006

However, the Australian Defence Force is planning to have the first of two LDH ships in-service by 2012, at around the same time as the F-35. These ships look to the lay person like small aircraft carriers. While no decision has been made, these ships could be equipped to operate the Vertical Takeoff, Short Landing (V/STOL) F-35B version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The July 2003 Australian Defence Capability Brief discusses the suitability of the F-35 for carrier based operation.

Research Areas

Australian universities and research organizations have the opportunity to participate in the JSF Project through the Australian Department of Defence managed project team. Defence staff have been briefing Australian universities on JSF participation during July 2006. The aim is to provide research partners for the companies involved, for long term (10 year) research. The project is out of its concept demonstration phase (CDD), currently in the System Development and Design (SDD) and with then move to Production, Sustainment and Further Development (PSFD).

The JSF Project Office (JPO) is establishing the Joint Strike Fighter Science and Technology Board (JSTAB) to guide its long-term science and technology strategy. The JSTAB will review emerging technologies as well as addressing the JSF Technical Needs List.

From: "Australian Participation on the Joint Strike Fighter Program", Australian Department of Defence

Funding is available to universities, research organisations and private companies. The capabilities of the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Programme will be access via their university partners.

The initial deadline for research proposals is required by 21 August 2006 and short presentations of proposals in September 2006. This should consist of a Quad Chart: one page summary with description of the organization, capability, technical Approach and cost estimate. Contact with the JSF Project Office (JPO) should be made via the university's research and commercialization staff. In the case of the ANU this is the Office of Commercialisation, Research Office.

While this document concentrates on information technology, research can be on any field relevant to the JSF, including: psychology, biological sciences, medical technology, engineering, materials science and information technology. Also while the examples here discuss Australian military requirements, research will generally be for the needs of all JSF users.

The Australian JSF Industry and Technology Conference will be held in Melbourne on Sunday 18 March 2007, in conjunction with the Australian International Aerospace Congress (AIAC-12) 2007.

Software Metrics and Engineering

The F-35 depends on software for much of its performance. With three increasingly different versions of the aircraft there is a large risk of problems with the software delaying the project. Software metrics and software engineering research provide tools and techniques to lessen the risk.

Lockheed is keen to avoid the pitfalls of its F-22 programme, including the issues with avionics software instability that slowed flight testing. ...

"Software is being developed in stages, building from around a million lines of basic vehicle-system software in the Block 0.1 release that will fly in AA-1 to a total of 6 million lines of code with the full-up Block 3 mission system. The same operational flight program (OFP) will be used by all three variants. "There will be one release to the aircraft - the aircraft will know if it is a CTOL, STOVL or CV; the engine will know if it is an F135 or F-136 ...".

From: "Future fighter, Graham Warwick, Flight International, 27 June 2006

Software Metrics

The field of software metrics has developed to plan and manage software acquisition. This has been used successfully on very large and complex multinational software development, such as the Australian Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft.

From: "Processes Used to Manage and Control Development of Software on a Very Large Multinational Development Project, ACT joint systems interest groups (SQA, SESA, IEEE-CS and SCSC) talk at ANU by Stuart Garrett, Defence Materiel organization, 19 July 2006

Model Driven Architectures and executable translatable UML

Model Driven Architecture (MDA) and executable translatable UML (xtUML) offer a way to develop correct applications rapidly. In Australia the Australian Research Council is leading the implementation of xtUML.


The JSF will generate large amounts of data requiring analysis, presentation and management, an area researched by eScience.

By the term "eScience" we mean the skills involved in the analysis, presentation, and management of data in commerce, industry and research; the use of computer analysis, modelling and data presentation tools; and the use of the World Wide Web and virtual environments for presentation and cooperation in the use of data.

From "eScience themes, Department of Computer Science, the Australian National University, 2002

eScience is closely associated with the field of digital media art, as researched and practiced at the ANU's Centre for New Media Arts (CNMA):

CNMA offers studies in four principal areas, which are, computer music, digital video, computer animation and interactive digital media. Activities include, research, exhibitions, festivals, recording, publishing and performance of new media and time-based arts. CNMA's interdisciplinary pursuits within the arts and the sciences associate it with other academic and artistic centres through Australia and around the world, our success is shown through the achievements of staff and students research and their arts practice.

From: Centre for New Media Arts, ANU, 2003

X-35 screen

X-35 Screen

An example of the contribution of new media arts is the work of graphic designers on the film "Superman Returns", in which a cockpit screen display was depicted for the X-35 (prototype of the F-35). One of the designers for the film, Gavin Tyrrell, described the process of the production of the display in a CNMA public seminar. While a fictional interpretation of the F-35 interface, the skills of the graphic designer in presenting complex information in a way which can be rapidly interpreted by the audience could be applied to the real system.

Advanced Networks

The F-35 will require larger volumes of information to be transmitted to and from the aircraft over the battlefield Intranet. Technologies such as Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) will be essential to this task.

Goals are to promote IPv6 development, get operational experience and feed back to the protocol. Several IPv6 Implementations Hydrangea distribution, runs on BSD/OS, FreeBSD v6d, user-space implementation, almost machine independent Commercial implementations, Hitachi, Fujitsu, NEC and Toshiba Tunnel (over current cloud, SG-JP: up by end of Nov 97) Native ATM (a few months after APAN operational, encoding?)

Activities are as following . IPv6 link between WIDE and Singapore has been established. It is *not* a tunnel link but a native ATM PVC link between Hitachi (WIDE) and Cisco (SingaREN). BGP4+ connection has also been established and the connection is drawn in the 6bone backbone site map. Roland Yo is the contact of SingaREN and Akira Kato is the contact of WIDE in this context.

From: IPv6 Working Group, Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN), 2003

High Performance Cluster Computing

The F-35 will generate thousands of time more surveillance data than previous systems. This will require near real time processing to be of value in the military decision loop. High performance cluster computing research can be used to speed up the processing of information on board the aircraft and when transmitted to airborne platforms, such as Wedgetail, sea and land headquarters. Developments with low cost clusters of COTS hardware, using designs such as the Bunyip, and open source software, such as the Australian developed Analytics software for data mining allow more of the processing to be done closer to the battlespace.

Web Based Systems

Many of the platforms which the F-35 will need to interface with have limited information processing capabilities. One way to provide them with access is via Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) web based computer terminals. These can be desk-top personal computers in command centers on the land, sea or in the air. They can also be pocket size PDA or smart phone devices. In addition civilian security agencies, police, coast watch and the agencies of other countries can be provided with limited access at low cost without comprising security.

Nokia E61

Nokia E61

A well designed web site can display on devices very different from a conventional personal computer. Examples are the RIM Blackberry, Motorola Moto Q, Nokia E61, i-Mate JASJAR, and Sony Ericsson M600i smartphones, PDAs and Microsoft Ultra-Mobile PCs. These devices may look very different, but have several features in common ...

RIM BlackBerry 8700g

RIM BlackBerry 8700g

Web content can be specially designed for a specific portable device. However, the target device may not be known, or may change, or resources may not available to tailor for several different devices. The World Wide Web's accessibility guidelines were specifically developed with the needs of small devices in mind, as well as disabled users. It is therefore possible to use those guidelines to design content to suit a generic hand held web device as well as conventional PCs..

From: Adapting web pages for Smartphones, PDAs and Ultra-Mobile PCs, Tom Worthington, 2006

Sahana home page


Sahana is a web based disaster management system developed in Sri Laka for the December 2004 Tsunami. The system was further developed and Version 2 of Sahana was released as free Open Source software for dealing with future disasters. This version incorporated some changes I suggested to allow the system to operate on tablet computers, PDAs, mobile telephones and other low bandwidth small screen devices. The Sahana developers have discussed extending the system to help developing nations deal with a bird flu outbreak.

From: Wireless Web System for an Avian Influenza Pandemic, Tom Worthington, 2006

USS Blue Ridge

USS Blue Ridge

For Exercise Tandem Thrust 97 unclassified and classified TCP/IP (Internet protocol) networks were created over a Wide Area Network (WAN) which covered the exercise area, including ships at sea. This used satellite links as well as radio, landlines and Local Area Networks (LANs). Australian networks and US were joined using routers. Encryption was used to protect and separate classified and unclassified traffic. ...

Rack mounted workstation


Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) hardware and software is used extensively on Blue Ridge. MS-Office is used for word processing, e-mail and preparing briefings in Power Point. Netscape Navigator Gold is used for web browsing and preparing web pages. Commercial video conferencing equipment and video projectors are used. Equipment is tied down using webbing straps, rack mounting and in some cases adhesive tape.

From: To The USS Blue Ridge by Helicopter, from the book "Net Traveller", Tom Worthington, 1999

Artificial Intelligence

A range of threats in the areas of safety and security, from natural disasters to terrorism to conventional warfare, involve complex interactions that are beyond the scope and capabilities of traditional problem solving techniques. ... provides an overview of complex systems' techniques and presents both guidelines and specific instances of how they can be applied to security and defense applications. In today's uncertain times, these techniques can provide a breakthrough in the capability to model, plan and respond to critical events in modern society. ... areas of security and defense, as well as for undergraduate and postgraduate students who are eager to learn about the applications of complex adaptive systems to real-life problems..

From "Applications of Information Systems to Homeland Security and Defense, Hussein A. Abbass, Daryl Essam, University of New South Wales (Australian Defence Force Academy), Australia, 2006

Military Strategy and Public Policy

Paper of deploying a new weapons system is working out how it might be used. Research can be used to determine roles and limitation of the F-35. As an example to usefulness of the aircraft in counter-terrorism operations.

The JSF and its weapons can also be optimised for the requirements of counter-terrorism. It will be compatible with a 250-pound small diameter bomb that can be delivered without a warhead, reducing the impact of the weapon and when employed with precision making it more suitable for terrorist targets. However, in a complex warfighting environment, even a bomb of this size risks causing significant collateral damage. Thus, it is important to exploit even smaller yield weapons such as the 20-pound Hellfire missile.

The JSF will also be able to accommodate any newly developed non-lethal weapons such as lasers when these become available. Thus, it is fair to say that the JSF, which is being developed primarily with conventional warfighting in mind, will be flexible enough to meet its counter-terrorism responsibilities if called upon to do so.

Air Power and Trans-national Terrorism: The Possibilities, Advantages and Limits to Using Australian Air Power in the 'War on Terror'", Sam Gray-Murphy, Air Power Development Centre", Paper Number 20, Royal Australian Air Force, October 2005

The first formal Air Force experiment, Headway 03/1, took place over the period May-July 2003. The experiment was designed as a preliminary investigation into the characteristics required of a future Australian Defence Force strike capability, with particular emphasis on assessing whether the planned Air Force of 2020 is likely to possess the necessary attributes to mount an effective strike campaign.

... The experiment found that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter should be able to provide the ADF with a highly capable strike platform, which will possess most of the required characteristics. However, its flexibility and precision may be impaired by limitations in available weapon options. The effects generated through the application of 'soft kill' options are difficult to assess and led to this option not being considered to be sufficiently effective. The availability of alternate platforms for strike operations, such as the multi-mission maritime aircraft, was largely limited due to concurrent tasking requirements

Air Force Experiment Headway - Some Insights, Reprinted from the Air Power Development Centre's bulletin, Pathfinder, Issue 28, July 2005 in Australian Defence Force Journal (ADFJ), Issue Number 168, Department of Defence, 2005

Operations Research

Operations Research is an important element supporting the decision process in major Air Force acquisition programs and must often address itself to a range of issues of varying complexity. An issue of particular complexity is air-to-air combat. Air-to-Air combat is a highly dynamic interaction between, possibly several, high performance aircraft employing sophisticated weapon and sensor systems and applying novel tactics designed to yield an advantage against the opponent. The combination of numerous entities, multiple system capabilities and complex tactics makes the air-to-air combat problem an especially challenging area of military operations research.

Currently, Australia is evaluating the capabilities of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) towards possible acquisition of this aircraft to replace Australia's ageing F/A-18 and F-111 fleets. Evaluation of the air-to-air combat performance of the F-35 JSF is a central element of this assessment. Building on the body of analytical studies completed in previous study phases, this evaluation will employ a new air-to-air combat simulation model currently under development, the AiR Tactical Engagement MIssion Simulator (ARTEMIS) to explore issues specific to the F-35 JSF.

From "The ARTEMIS Air-to-Air Combat Model" in "Abstracts for SimTecT 2004 Simulation Conference, 2004

Further Information on the JSF

  1. Books on the JSF
  2. Australian Defence JSF Web Site
  3. Departments of Industry, Tourism and Resources JSF Industry Web Site
  4. US DoD Joint Strike Fighter Web-site
  5. Lockheed Martin JSF Web Site
  6. The F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) Project: progress and issues for Australia, Research Note no. 32 200506, Alex Tewes, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Section, Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, 13 June 2006

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