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Australia, UK open F-35 reprogramming lab

Australian F-35
Illustration; Australian defense ministry file photo

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter operators Australia and the UK have opened an F-35 Reprogramming Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida that will enable the fifth-generation fighter to be a “smart” aircraft.

As explained by Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds, the lab will be responsible for producing mission data files (MDFs) for Australian and UK F-35s which compile information about the operating environment and assets in an area, before being loaded onto the aircraft pre-flight using a portable hard drive.

“Combined with the aircraft’s advance sensor suite, this provides the pilot with a clearer battlespace picture,” Reynolds said.

“Today’s opening is a key milestone in the delivery of this program to the Australian Defence Force.”

The Reprogramming Laboratory will support Australian and UK F-35s by developing, verifying, validating and issuing F-35 MDFs for Australian and UK-fielded F-35s.

Both countries are co-funding and supporting the capability under a 50/50 funding arrangement.

The Australian F-35A is expected to achieve initial operating capability (IOC) in December 2020, and final operating capability in late 2023. The UK declared an IOC for its F-35B (short take off/vertical landing) variant jets in 2019.