BAE Systems recently delivered its 3,000th vehicle management computer (VMC) and 1,000th active inceptor system (AIS) to Lockheed Martin for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft, achieving two major production milestones on the platform. The VMC and AIS are flight critical systems that provide each F-35 jet with the ability to operate safely and reliably in demanding environments, with decreased pilot workload and enhanced mission effectiveness.
The VMC unit provides advanced hardware and computing for the F-35’s digital fly-by-wire flight control system and utility systems (fuel, electrical, and hydraulic system controls), which maximize system integration to improve mission efficiency and safety. BAE Systems has successfully reached full-rate production – increasing deliveries from 10 shipsets per month to 25 shipsets per month to achieve program requirements.
BAE Systems has also reached full-rate production at a level of 19 shipsets per month for its active inceptors, which are used by the pilot to direct and maneuver the aircraft. The AIS consists of the inceptor control unit, active side stick controller, and active quadrant throttle assembly. The high-integrity inceptors provide pilots with tactical feedback through active technology for increased situational awareness, safety, and mission survivability.
The company continues to invest in equipment, testing, and infrastructure upgrades for best-in-class manufacturing efficiency and aftermarket support. These improvements contributed to a 100 percent quality rating in both VMC and AIS production for 2020 from Lockheed Martin. Work for the VMC and AIS occurs at BAE Systems facilities in Endicott, New York and Rochester, UK, respectively.
BAE Systems is a major global partner to Lockheed Martin on the F-35 program. The company also provides the electronic warfare system for the platform, delivering a cumulative total of 830 systems to date out of its Nashua, N.H. facility. In addition to providing mission-critical electronic warfare systems, the company also manufactures the aft fuselage for each jet at its facilities in Lancashire, UK and Adelaide, Australia, and provides sustainability, technical support, and training to keep the global fleet of F-35s mission-ready.