The U.S. Air Force Test Center (AFTC) under Air Force Materiel Command wants industry input on Visual Display Systems (VDSs) for the Air Force Joint Simulation Environment (JSE) for the service’s F-35A by Lockheed Martin [LMT].

AFTC is looking for the submittal of white papers over the next month on VDS solutions for the Air Force JSE, which is to expand upon F-35 JSE to support high-end modeling and simulation for other current Air Force platforms, such as the Lockheed Martin F-22, and future platforms.

The 412th Air Wing’s Electronic Warfare Group at Edwards AFB, Calif., “has a requirement for [VDSs] to support the Threat and Friendly/Virtual Air Threat (TAF/VAT) Joint Simulation Environment (JSE),” per a business notice last week. “A VDS is defined as an out-the-window (OTW) display screen, image projectors, auto alignment and calibration system, mechanical edge blending solution, and support structures and interfaces. The VDS contractor will integrate all the VDS components.”

“The Air Force is seeking innovative solutions with regards to the fidelity and Field-OF-View (FOV) of the proposed VDS within this call,” per the notice. “The solution offered will need to consider the human factor relationship or the physical relationship of the primary components of the simulator. The important aspects to retain are the physical relationships of the pilot eye.”

Humberto Blanco, AFTC’s Joint Simulation Division Chief, wrote in a July 19 email that “VDS provides a high fidelity display in support of high fidelity TAF/VAT simulation.”

In response to this article, the F-35 Joint Program Office on July 20 said that the F-35 JSE “is located at Patuxent River where Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) is the lead system integrator, responsible for integrating F-35-In-A-Box (a Lockheed Martin product) with complex threat models from several government organizations.”

“The U.S. Air Force Test Center action referenced…is not in support of the F-35 JSE,” the JPO said. “Rather, it is for an Air Force JSE which will support F-35 and other USAF platforms for high-end modeling and simulation in the future.”

The Air Force JSE “will be the backbone for live, virtual, constructive test and training and its long term potential is huge,” retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, the former AFTC commander, said this spring before his retirement. “The JSE is key to the evolution of Joint All-Domain Operations.” The Air Force JSE, which aims to replicate dense-threat environments unavailable in live exercises, “will integrate virtual and constructive elements with live open-air test and training,” per Azzano. “A lot hinges on JSE, and we are committed to its success.”

A big challenge to DoD approval of F-35 full-rate production has not been the Air Force future effort, but the baseline Pax River F-35 JSE testing, which is to assess how the F-35 will fare against advanced threats. A delay in that testing has pushed back the full-rate production decision, and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said in February that the completion of such testing is “long overdue” (Defense Daily, Feb. 24). The JPO has said that it now expects the completion of JSE testing by the end of next year.

At a House Armed Services Committee Tactical Air and Land Forces panel hearing last week , Raymond O’Toole, the acting Pentagon director of operational test and evaluation (DOT&E), said that concerns remain about the F-35 JSE (Defense Daily, July 13).

“While a majority of the F-35 initial operational test and evaluation [IOT&E], including open air testing, is complete, one essential element of the T&E program remains–trials of the JSE,” O’Toole said. “The JSE is the only means, other than actual combat against a peer adversary, to assess the F-35 against threat types, density, and operational scenarios we’re expected to face. DOT&E therefore cannot issue its IOT&E report without the data the JSE will gather from executing the planned 64 trials.”

Those final 64 tests are to allow the F-35 program to complete IOT&E. The F-35 program 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.

Construction started in February at Edwards AFB on a $34.4 million, 72,000 square foot 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, 50,000 square foot JSE testing environment.