Editor’s Note: As has been the case with the F-22, the F-35 is running up against an issue with technology being outdated even before the aircraft reaches it’s Initial Operational Capability. In this case, it is the Electro-Optical Targeting System. The current generation of Sniper targeting pods is outperforming EOTS, and the Department of Defense is putting pressure on the manufacturer to change that as quickly as possible. Lockheed-Martin has stepped up its efforts to do just that, announcing that a prototype of the “advanced” version of EOTS will soon be ready for test.

Lockheed Martin is assembling a prototype of its “advanced” electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) that is proposed to replace the baseline version on the F-35 fleet.

The company will complete design and construction of the next evolution of the air-to-air and air-to-ground targeting device this year for carriage on a surrogate Sabreliner test aircraft.

Lockheed director of business development for missiles and fire control Don Bolling says the proposed multispectral sensor will allow Lightning II operators to detect air and ground targets with greater clarity and at longer ranges, via short-wave infrared, high-definition television, infrared marker and image detector resolution enhancements.

Lockheed Martin, Edwards Air Force Base, 416th FLTS F-35 ITF, JSF, 6 ship static display, sunrise, AF-1, AF-2, AF-3, AF-4, AF-6, AF-7
Lockheed Martin, Edwards Air Force Base, 461st FLTS F-35 ITF, JSF, 6 ship static display, sunrise, AF-1, AF-2, AF-3, AF-4, AF-6, AF-7. (Courtesy of Lockheed-Martin)

Lockheed recently delivered the 200th EOTS sensor, which has been outpaced technologically by Lockheed’s Sniper and Northrop Grumman/Rafael’s Litening targeting pod systems because of delays in fielding, and consequently improving, the F-35. The baseline EOTS hasn’t been used in combat yet and is already outdated.

Lockheed’s fire control business has low-rate production contracts for 367 F-35 targeting systems, and is producing them at a rate of six per month, company officials say. Current F-35 plans call for more than 3,000 EOTS sensors through 2030 and production should scale up to one EOTS per business day by 2020.

The original article can be viewed in its entirety at Flight Global right here.