The F-35 program is ahead of the curve this time, beating its schedule by five years. The joint strike fighter program announced that it has approved the implementation of anti-collision software, which automatically takes control if it detects imminent ground impact and attempts executes a recovery a maneuver.
The system, which is based on a synthesis of GPS, altitude, trajectory and an onboard digital terrain database, is expected to be fully deployed in the F-35 fleet by 2019 under the new schedule.
Currently, F-35s are equipped with an earlier, manual version of the ground collision avoidance system, which alerts pilots to imminent impact but relies on the operator to hear and appropriately react to it. The military reports that since the automatic version of the software was first installed on F-16s in 2014, it is responsible for saving seven pilots and six aircraft.
“Expediting this lifesaving technology into the F-35 fleet by 2019 is estimated to prevent the loss of three aircraft and, more importantly, save the lives of three pilots,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, the F-35 program executive officer. “Over the service life of the F-35 fleet, [it is expected] to prevent more than 26 ground collisions.”