The U.S. Air Force 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., is seeking industry support for mission data loads for the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 fighter.

The wing “is seeking alternative sources for non-personnel services to provide sustainment, obtain technical engineering telephone support, on-site technical support, and documentation for the F-35 mission data development mission,” according to a Nov. 23 business notice.

The wing said that interested companies must meet or exceed the requirements in the Nov. 9 F-35 mission data development mission performance work statement.

In June last year, the Air Force stood up the wing under Air Combat Command to focus on offensive electronic warfare and consolidate all Air Force electromagnetic spectrum efforts (Defense Daily, June 25, 2021). The wing includes Eglin’s former 53rd Electronic Warfare Group.

The mission data load (MDL) effort is crucial, as such MDLs allow the F-35 to identify and counter specific threats, including adversary fighters. The 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing and the U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory (USRL) at Eglin update MDLs to ensure new software incorporates new data.

In past years, the Pentagon’s directorate of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E) has pressed DoD to ensure that USRL is able to test and optimize MDLs under realistic threat scenarios. In its fiscal 2021 “controlled unclassified information” report, DOT&E said that there is still work to do to support F-35 Block 4 MDL development.

The report said that “DOT&E remains concerned about the availability of the test infrastructure and resources required to execute the approved Block 4 test programs.”

The U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and operational test (OT) personnel from the F-35 Joint Program Office “have developed a tail-by-tail accounting of current and future OT aircraft, and identified the necessary modifications to OT aircraft and the required instrumentation,” the study said. “Additional work and funding are required to address these and other test-enabling and infrastructure requirements, such as the U.S. Reprogramming Lab for mission data, data sharing networks and storage systems for the test teams, and JSE [Joint Simulation Environment] upgrades. Currently, these requirements are not fully funded, programmed, or scheduled to be completed in time to support Block 4’s DT [developmental test], integrated DT/OT, and dedicated OT activities.”

The F-35 program plans to finish the final 64 runs of JSE at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., next year to allow the F-35 to proceed to a full-rate production decision.