Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has visited Rockwell Collins’ premises in Sydney to witness the production of its 100th Optical Assembly for the F-35 electro-optic distributed aperture system (DAS).
The DAS is a multifunction infrared system which provides passive, spherical battlespace awareness for F-35 pilots and simultaneously detects and tracks aircraft and missiles in every direction.
It works in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and other on-board systems to give F-35 pilots an unprecedented degree of situational awareness, including the capability to look at targets and terrain through the floor and wings of the aircraft.
Minister Pyne congratulated Rockwell Collins Australia on the milestone, saying the company expects to produce more than 7,000 of these assemblies across the life of the F-35 program.
“Rockwell Collins Australia’s performance on the JSF program is proof Australian manufacturing can compete with the best in the world,” he said.
“Importantly, Australia’s ambition to grow the local defence industry is highlighted by this milestone. This game-changing technology sets the F-35 ahead of 4th generation fighter aircraft through its sensor fusion capability.”
Mr Pyne said the F-35 Optical Assembly will be a ‘major export’ for Rockwell Collins Australia, with the company also exploring a number of global sustainment opportunities for the aircraft.
“In addition to this contribution, Rockwell Collins Australia has successfully partnered with BAE Systems Australia and Northrop Grumman Australia for assignment of regional maintenance and repair responsibilities for some F-35 avionic components,” the Minister continued.
“The company is also planning to increase its footprint to include a manufacturing capability for critical test equipment required by Australia and Partner countries. The skills and expertise that Rockwell Collins Australia has built are integral to the local capability they’ve developed for the broader Australian Defence Force, with the Army’s Digital Terminal Control System another example of the company’s contribution to Defence capability.”