FORT WORTH, Texas - The F-35 Joint Program Office, U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin have started integrating the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) on to Air Force F-35As in the fleet. The joint government and industry team successfully fielded the life-saving technology seven years earlier than previously planned.
Originally developed for the F-16 in partnership with NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Auto-GCAS uses terrain mapping, geolocation and automation to detect and avoid potential ground collisions. When the program recognizes imminent impact, it will prompt the pilot to take action. If the pilot is unresponsive, Auto-GCAS assumes temporary control to divert the aircraft out of harm's way, and then returns control of the aircraft to the pilot once on a safe trajectory.
The system has been operating successfully aboard the F-16 for more than five years and has already been credited with saving eight F-16 pilots' lives since 2014.
Auto-GCAS was originally slated for delivery in the 2026 timeframe. To accelerate the technology, Air Force Research Laboratory and Lockheed Martin conducted positive feasibility studies and the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin then implemented an agile approach to develop the technology for integration on the F-35. The 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base then completed a rigorous flight testing program to validate its performance and safety, which led to the wing's formal recommendation to field Auto-GCAS aboard the F-35.
U.S. Air Force F-35As are the first to receive Auto-GCAS, and the system will next be integrated aboard the F-35B and F-35C variants. The Auto-GCAS team was recently recognized with the National Aeronautic Associations' 2018 Robert J. Collier Trophy, and received the award in June 2019.
More than a fighter jet, the F-35's ability to collect, analyze and share data, is a powerful force multiplier that enhances all airborne, surface and ground-based assets in the battlespace enabling men and women in uniform to execute their mission and return home safely.
For additional information, visit www.f35.com.