Lockheed Martin has selected Raytheon to develop and deliver the next generation Distributed Aperture System (DAS) for the F-35 fighter jet.

The result of a Lockheed Martin-led competition, the selection will enhance capability and reduce cost say the defence giant.

The F-35’s Distributed Aperture System collects and sends high resolution, real-time imagery to the pilot’s helmet from six infrared cameras mounted around the aircraft, allowing pilots to see the environment around them – day or night. With the ability to detect and track threats from any angle, the F-35 DAS gives pilots unprecedented situational awareness compared to previous aircraft types.

“The supply chain competition for the next generation F-35 Distributed Aperture System resulted in significant cost savings, reliability and performance improvements,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 program.

“We are aggressively pursuing cost reduction across the F-35 enterprise and this initiative is a clear demonstration of our unrelenting commitment to reduce costs and deliver transformational capabilities for the warfighter.”

The Raytheon-built DAS will be integrated into F-35 aircraft starting with Lot 15 aircraft, expected to begin deliveries in 2023. The next generation DAS system is estimated to generate the following results compared to the current system:

  • More than $3 billion in life cycle cost savings
    • Approximately 45 percent reduction in unit recurring cost
    • Greater than 50 percent reduction in operations and sustainment cost
  • 5 times more reliability
  • 2 times performance capability improvement
  • The new system will also indirectly benefit aircraft readiness and service manpower requirements

“Raytheon’s solution delivers next generation capability for the fifth generation F-35,” said Roy Azevedo vice president of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems.

“Our focus is on providing pilots every tactical advantage imaginable while ensuring taxpayers receive the best value possible.”

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james harrington

I wonder if anyone else bid on this? The UK will have to be satisfied with the current production share we have and it is significant. I don’t see that British companies will ever / never get anymore work on this project under a Trump presidency unless its on UK owned aircraft. I’m waiting for the EU’s next punitive action and to try and limit UK work on European based F35 maintenance. The EU seems to want to punish the Uk for leaving the Union in everyday it can. Including risking its security integrity. I wish Mrs. May would be… Read more »

Sceptical Richard

I think, although I may be mistaken, there is some U.K. technology on the helmet mounted display.


the EU isn’t trying to punish us, it is trying to get the best value for itself and so should they and it’s something we have benefited from for 30 years (ok not 100% as France looks after France and stitches up the euro as do others). We are leaving the EU and with we are leaving being part of the advantages that brings. We can’t have it both ways, leave behind all the negatives but keep all the positives, was never going to work like that.


You have just contradicted yourself as much as I used to be an avid pro european even I have sadly seen how the Franco German axis has stiched everything up for itself, while others have fought over who can be sycophantic enough to get the most crumbs. We needed to be in at the beginning to avoid becoming an effect vassal state. That has cost us dear in or outside the union.

james harrington

I do agree with your rationale and that your verbal comments should probably be stated more often in the main stream media and from officials. Its a truth in many things such as agreements, contracts, trade, economics, financial exchanges, etc. You cannot have it both ways. Neither can the rest of the EU. But, in terms of regional defense I see the EU taking positions which are designed to hurt and punish the UK. They are primarily punitive decisions. Especially the still being developed alternative to the GPS system, denial of access to that could have catastrophic effects in the… Read more »

james harrington

I think there is, however, do you recall that several years ago funding for joint the alternate helmet mounted display which was a UK lead project was eliminated by the USA? Additionally, more than a few years ago funding for an alternate engine was also eliminated by the USA as that engine was being developed and lead by RR. My point being that the UK has been restricted, not invited or ignored on a number of defense projects over the past 10 years. Not just by the US but also France and Germany specifically. Even the Italians and Spanish tend… Read more »

Sceptical Richard

I hadn’t realised that DAS wasn’t coming in until after 2023. I sincerely hope that the U.K. is fully signed up to receive all pre-planned product improvements and technology insertions during the life of the programme. I hope we don’t repeat the mistake we made with Sentry!


From the article, emphasis mine…

“The NEXT generation DAS system is estimated to generate the following results compared to the CURRENT system”

Seems to be part of the ongoing process throughout the lifespan of the F35 to improve capability and reduce costs. Continuous improvement rather than spending 30 years developing it and have it perfect but obsolete on entry to service.


That’s how I read it too. I think it’s all part of the “spiral development” process that has always been an integral part of the F-35 program philosophy from the outset I believe. Even knowing that though, I confess that it feels slightly weird to me to be reading about fairly imminent next/second generation equipment upgrades on aircraft that, at least here in the U.K., haven’t even gone operational yet.


Haven’t they built some 300 already, thought I read that yesterday, it actually shocked me the figure was do high do was wondering if it was accurate. Anyone able to confirm that.


I think the F35’s development process is analogous to how software development is now undertaken. Originally software engineering followed a ‘waterfall’ methodology, originally taken from the engineering world. Each stage of the process is perfected before progressing to the next. This ensures a quality product but takes a longtime to deliver a final, often inflexible product. These days an ‘agile’ approach is taken. Moving to the next stage as soon as as things are good enough, with the recognition that it will be revisited multiple times in the future as part of a continuous review and improvement cycle. It allows… Read more »


unfortunately, like the upgraded eots it wont be fitted to production models till 2020+, and no doubt well have to pay to get any older models upgraded…… makes me actually agree were doing the right thing by slow buying them….. ofc that’s assuming a conflict where we actually need them doesn’t break out in the meantime


Does anyone know, with our current buy rate, what proportion of our F-35 are going to fall in lot 14 and later? It’d be nice not to have to upgrade many aircraft, particularly as that’s unlikely to actually happen…