Precision parts enable our helicopters to see great distances day and night. In our previous blog, we brought you the story behind the FLIR parts we make for such helicopters.
Additionally, ER Precision Optical makes precision parts that play other vital roles for jet fighter aircraft. For example:
The Jet Fighter Pilot’s Vision
Imagine you are a fighter pilot who can see 360 degrees around and through the body of your plane. You are wearing a helmet with a 360-degree battlespace view. Your computer uploads that view and other sensory details in real-time video, from 6 infrared cameras.
These sophisticated cameras project from various points around the body of your plane. The helmet also shows your aircraft around you. Additionally, it identifies ground and air targets above and below you. And your computer smartly designates friend and foe, because it too, has 21st-century precision parts.
Fantasy Flying with Precision Parts
Likewise, imagine you see an overlay of instrument readings relayed directly on that visor display. Altimeter. Airspeed. Radar readings. You fly not only with your stick but with your fingers on a large touchscreen in front of you.
As you might have guessed, this situation is not some flight engineer’s fantasy. In fact, the experience is not imaginary at all. You are flying the very real American invention, the F-35 Fighter Jet.
And, yes, the 360-degree sensory suite of information fed to your helmet is real.
Precision Parts: ER Precision Optics Introduces You to the F-35
Here at ER Precision Optics, we manufacture parts that make the AN/AAQ-37 Electro-Optical Distributed Aperture System (DAS) work for the F-35.
Let’s use the shortened name for the Distributed Aperture System: DAS, for short.
What it does for this plane sounds like science fiction. However, it isn’t. It’s just science–and precision manufactured parts.
1. To put it briefly, the “DAS sends high-resolution real-time imagery to the pilot’s helmet from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft.”
2. This creates what pilots and engineers call “situational awareness” within the cockpit. (Incidentally, the helmet that receives the DAS input and puts it on the pilots’ visors, right in front of their eyes does not come cheap.
That custom-fitted helmet costs $400,000.00. It also replaces dozens of switches and dials that previously littered the console.)
Additionally, let’s be clear that the DAS system “gives the pilot the ability to see through the aircraft structure, thanks to the imagery projected onto the helmet’s visor.”
Thus, this blog features some of the less well-known aspects of the F-35, a fifth-generation stealth fighter. Not only do precious precision parts define the 360 views, but this plane combines stealth technology with other sensor data.
For example, data communicates armament capability and engine performance directly to the pilot’s helmet display. It accomplishes this simultaneously with the 360 DAS-powered views. (Just like in our opening dream scenario.)
DAS: More Than a Viewing System—Enhancing Security in the Cockpit
Another feature of the DAS system is that it warns pilots of incoming aircraft and missile threats.
- Likewise DAS “will enhance the F-35’s survivability and operational effectiveness by providing clear day and night vision.”
- Moreover, it enhances and supports the FLIR. Thus the precision parts we make also support “the navigation function of the F-35 Lightning II’s forward-looking infrared sensor.” (FLIR)
Breaking Down the DAS Functions
To put it briefly, below you will find a grocery list of empowerments brought to the plane by the precision parts that make up the DAS functions.
- Missile detection and tracking.
- Launch point detection.
- Situational awareness, IRST & cueing.
- Weapons support.
- Day/night navigation.
And make no mistake, the owners and staff of ER Precision Optics are proud to be a part of this awe-inspiring technology, through our contributions of meticulously created precision parts.
The DAS is a Team Player
The DAS works hand-in-glove with the AN/APG-81 advanced radar system, an electronically scanned fire control radar. (AESA.) If you watch old WW II movies, then you know the horror of fire in the cockpit. That should become a thing of the past.
Moreover, the AESA radar empowers the F-35 pilot to “engage air and ground targets at long range, while also providing outstanding situational awareness.” And that point brings us full circle to our opening scenario, again.
Fun Facts About the F-35
We would be remiss if we did not give you an idea of the looks and feel of this plane. Although we are focused on the DAS system because we make it, we also provide this blog to interest and fascinate our readers.
Indeed, we hope our glimpse of this amazing plane will encourage you to explore new technology in the world around us.
Your First Glance at the Aircraft
At first glance, this plane impresses you as a piece of aerodynamic smoothness worthy of any science fiction movie. Do not look for bumps and bulges of equipment or things hanging off the belly or wings of this plane. Even the 6 cameras of the DAS system and other sensors are carefully recessed into the smoothly contoured structure of the F-35.
Likewise, the munitions are housed in internal bays. So, this smooth, fighter jet is all angles and lines and every angle is aerodynamically planed, no pun intended.
Adding Stealthiness to Sleek Lines
“The F-35 jet boasts an airframe especially designed to generate a minimal radar cross-section, also coated in radar-absorbent materials.
Some experts say that the F-35 is actually “stealthier than Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor—arguably the gold standard for fifth-generation stealth performance…”
The Great Battlefield Communication Center
The vast 21st-century sensory array on this plane makes it a valuable player in any battle space, even if it did not fire a single round or drop a single bomb.
Indeed, its communication platform including the DAS has led at least one pilot to refer to it as the “quarterback” in the sky.
Experts state that the F-35 jet can then feed live data to “nearby friendly units and operation centers.” This contributes “to a shared data network generated from first-hand information.”
Thus, this formidable plane has transformed into a “force multiplier.” With all its precision parts aligned, the F-35 empowers “friendly air, ground, and surface units” with advanced data no other source could possibly provide.
Keep in Mind: The F-35 is a Skilled Combatant
Built to fight as well as fly, let’s take a brief look at the munitions capabilities of this plane. “The F-35 has a single internal 25-millimeter gun and can carry a total of four air-to-air missiles in two internal weapons bays.” If necessary, “it can also carry AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, one on each wingtip.”
- The plane “can carry a variety of air to ground munitions inside the bays.”
- Experts state these weapons include: JDAM satellite-guided and Paveway II laser-guided bombs.
In short, the F-35 gives you “four wing-mounted weapons stations, with the two inner stations rated to carry bombs up to 5,000 pounds.”
Aircraft Vital Statistics
According to the experts, the F-35 fighter jet is 51 ft long and 14.4 ft. tall. It supports a wingspan of 35 feet, tip to tip. This means it has a wing area of 460 feet squared. You might like to know it weighs 29,300 pounds when it’s empty. It holds 18,250 pounds of fuel and 18,000 pounds of weapons.
In Lockheed’s words, the F 35 flies as the “most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft in the world…” We agree that the F-35 “strengthens national security, enhances global partnerships, and powers economic growth.” (It’s a bargain on the international market, at 77 million dollars.)
Not only is it shared by three branches of the US military, army, navy, and marine, but also 13 allied countries. And, as we said, ER Precision Optics takes great pride in creating precision parts for this jet fighter and its powerful DAS system.