Military Aviation


The software is conceived to allow the F-35 to precisely identify advanced enemy aircraft such as the Chinese J-20 and the Russian Su-57 stealth fighters

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) is speeding up the development of a new on-board threat library for the F-35 stealth fighter. According to USAF officials this software is conceived to precisely identify advanced enemy aircraft such as the Chinese Chengdu J-20 and the Russian Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighters.

According to these “mission data files,” which are described as the brains of the F-35, are extensive on-board data systems compiling information on geography, air space and potential threats in areas where the F-35 might be expected to perform combat operations.

Consisting of hardware and software, the mission data files are essentially a database of known threats and friendly aircraft in specific parts of the world. Noteworthy the mission data files are aimed to work with the aircraft’s Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) that is designed to find and identify approaching enemy threats.

The files, that are being worked on at a reprogramming laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Fla., have experienced some delays which led to quicken their development so that the operational F-35s have the most extensive threat library possible. The first increments of the technology will be integrated for training F-35s.

“If there is nothing in the library, the F-35 will not know exactly what the threat will be,” a USAF official explained.

The mission data packages are loaded with a wide range of information to include commercial airliner information and specifics on Russian and Chinese fighter jets.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lighning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014

For example, the mission data system would enable a pilot to quickly identify a Russian MiG-29 if it were detected by the F-35’s sensors.

Furthermore the mission data files can adapt to new threats and intelligence information as they emerge.

The USAF is developing 12 different mission data files for 12 different geographic areas.

The idea of having an advanced threat library is to enable F-35 pilots to see and destroy enemies in the air, well in advance of a potential dogfight scenario.

This can be explained in terms of a well-known Air Force strategic concept pioneered years ago by air theorist and pilot Col. John Boyd, referred to as the “OODA Loop,” – for observe, orient, decide and act. The concept is to complete this process quickly and make fast decisions while in an air-to-air dogfight in order to get inside the enemy’s decision cycle, properly anticipate, and destroy an enemy before it can destroy you.

According to USAF thanks to its advanced sensor fusion the F-35 can complete the OODA loop much more quickly than any potential adversary.

Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane and Airman 1st Class Tristan Biese / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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