The U.S. Air Force intends that its Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) effort begun this year build upon the experience of the F-35 JSE under the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md.
F-35 JSE testing is part of the fighter’s initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E), the successful completion of which is required for a Pentagon decision to authorize F-35 full-rate production. The F-35 JPO established JSE for F-35 IOT&E some five years ago after the program decided to take over work on the simulation environment from Lockheed Martin [LMT], the F-35 contractor.
But the Air Force JSE is part of a multi-aircraft effort and, for the service’s F-35A, one that lies beyond IOT&E.
Air Force JSE testing is to include the F-35A, the Lockheed Martin F-22, and other platforms, possibly including the Next Generation Air Dominance family of systems.
Construction started in February at Edwards AFB on a $34.4 million, 72,000 square foot Air Force JSE facility for fifth-generation and next-generation developmental test, operational test, and high-end advanced training and tactics development. Nellis AFB, Nev., is to have a smaller, $27.5 million, 50,000 square foot JSE testing environment.
Eileen Bjorkman, the executive director of the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) at Edwards AFB, Calif., wrote in an email on July 22 that AFTC is partnering with Air Force Test and Evaluation and the Department of the Navy “to collaboratively build on the Joint Simulation Environment’s technical baseline established by the F-35 joint program office to field a simulation environment suitable for developmental and for-score operational testing.”
“For score operational testing” refers to operational test and evaluation actions that use an accredited simulation environment for testing under real-world conditions.
The Air Force JSE project “includes updates to the F-35 that occur past IOT&E, future updates to the F-22 and other platforms,” per Bjorkman. ”The need is driven by Open Air Range threat and threat density limitations, air space limitations, and security constraints. The Air Force Test Center team has coordinated with the Pax River team to leverage lessons learned from their efforts.”
The Air Force JSE is to simulate the significant number and capabilities of aircraft and other systems held by technologically advanced potential adversaries.
“We aim to replicate dense-threat environments that we can expect to encounter in a high-end fight that can’t be realized strictly with open-air test resources and fully utilize the capabilities of our advanced aircraft without the prying eyes of adversaries,” Derek Kaufman, a spokeman for Air Force Materiel Command, wrote in a July 22 email. “The ability to test and train in this simulated, virtual, digital environment also has cost and schedule benefits (i.e. reduce the wear and tear on airframes, potentially speed developmental/operational testing).”