The Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Test Force have tested 11 unique F-35 software suites.
In 2019, as part of the Auto Ground Collision Avoidance System team, the ITF won the coveted Collier Trophy for “for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America.”
In the letter below, ITF leadership reflects on the historical and strategic significance of the team’s accomplishments throughout 2019.
“Over the past year we have tested 11 unique F-35 software suites and fielded two. Through those efforts, we have laid the foundation for increased F-35 lethality and survivability with functions like multi-ship Infrared Search and Track. We have advanced strategic capabilities like Dual-Capable Aircraft and large rocket observation missions. We have expanded the flight envelope for KC-46 air-to-air refueling, enabling extended missions with America’s most advanced tanker.
And we have done all these things by constructing a partnership of Joint, Operational and Developmental Test units around the nation. The Integrated Test Team that we envisioned and lead has become the standard for fighter test everywhere, producing strategically relevant capabilities at a four-fold rate compared to legacy fighters.
These accomplishments are in many ways quite remote from those of our predecessors over eight decades ago. Yet our most important contribution this year brings us full circle to our namesake. As the fastest fighter of its time, the P-38 took its developers into transonic and supersonic regimes that were not yet well understood. Consequently, the P-38 suffered from a tendency to tuck under at high speeds, leading to steep fast dives that were difficult or impossible to recover from. In 1941, Lockheed test pilot Ralph Virden lost his life while trying to recover his P-38 from just such a dive. A number of P-38s were lost in test and in combat due to this phenomenon, and P-38 pilots’ reluctance to enter dives gave enemy pilots a distinct survivability advantage. “