Northrop Grumman announced Monday that it has delivered the initial, flight-ready integrated communications, navigation, and identification system for the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter to prime contractor Lockheed Martin. This package is planned for use aboard the first mission systems-equipped F-35 aircraft, which is expected to fly this summer. The CNI system will provide the equivalent of more than 40 avionics subsystem functions to F-35 pilots, including identification friend or foe, automatic acquisition of fly-to points, and various voice and data communications such as the multifunction advanced data link, according to Northrop. Roger Fujii, Northrop’s vice president of network communication systems, said the company has been “pleased” with the CNI system’s performance on Lockheed’s F-35 avionics testbed aircraft, known as the CATBird. “Those flight tests give us high confidence in the next-generation communications capabilities we continue to bring to the warfighter,” he said.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.