The Air Force formally accepted delivery of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Distributed Mission Training capability, following a capstone event at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., where four Joint Strike Fighter pilots flew alongside F-22s, F-16s, and an E-3 Sentry virtually for the first time.
The DMT system connects F-35 full mission simulators over a network to other training systems across the Air Force, from different bases, so they can fly together in large-scale events. F-35s at Nellis connected with other trainers from different bases bases to fly a virtual mission in a simulated contested environment during the June 18 final test.
Chauncey McIntosh, Lockheed’s vice president for training and logistics, said a major challenge in developing the system and making it operational was connecting Air Force training systems for different aircraft that were made by different contractors. While they all spoke the same “language,” connecting them was akin to different dialects coming together requiring “heavy translations” to have them work seamlessly.
The Air Force system will operate at Nellis, but it also can work with mission rehearsal training simulators and deployed simulators. The DMT system is also certified with F-15 trainers.
Lockheed’s next step is delivering the system to the Navy later this year, and to the U.S. Marine Corps in 2021. While the current direction is to have the systems work within services, there is a capability that Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps simulators could work together if the military decides to pursue that as well, he said. Lockheed is also developing a system for the United Kingdom.
Lockheed intended to deliver the system to USAF in April, but challenges and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the final test exercise and in turn the acceptance of delivery.