Lockheed Martin has announced an improved version of its electro-optical targeting system fitted to the F-35. It is a drop-in replacement for the existing system that will provide a wide range of enhancements including short-wave infrared, high-definition television, an infrared marker and improved image detector resolution.
Paul Lemmo, vice president of Fire Control/SOF CLSS at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control said;
In today’s environment, threats to our warfighters continue to evolve. With significant capability and performance enhancements, Advanced EOTS ensures that F-35 pilots can stay ahead of these threats, detecting targets faster and at greater distances while remaining unseen.
This is one of great advantages of the F-35’s systems architecture, upgrades like this can be installed easily, brilliant stuff, really.
The simple fact is, the existing EOTS is somewhat behind the curve, what was cutting edge is no longer. Despite EOTS meeting the original contract specification, things, and expectations, have moved on. This is what happens often with long development time projects, nothing unusual in many ways.
Lockheed Martin and their suppliers have clearly recognised this and developed Advanced EOTS on their own coin, even better.
But where the bare faced cheek comes in is Lockheed Martin seem to be saying it would be an upgrade option if the partner nations and customers want to stump up the cash to do so. We have this shiny new thing, but forget the years of delays and billions of dollars over budget, you will have to dig deep if you want the same video resolution as being used in similar systems five years old.
One might have though Lockheed Martin and the DoD would be looking to make gestures of goodwill, regain some credibility, smooth feathers and pay back some of the confidence they have received from customers instead of sticking to the ‘delivered to contract’ line.
Perhaps bare faced cheek is too strong, but perceptions are important, credibility is important, memories can be very long and grudges harboured.
As we know, cost and timescale overruns are rarely the fault of one side, but if Lockheed Martin had announced that the improvement would be incorporated as a baseline or retrofit free of charge then their challenging relationship with Congress, the DoD and launch customers would surely be improved?
Seems like an opportunity lost to me.
I could be wrong of course, the statements were a little ambiguous after all, Lockheed Martin may actually operate in the same commercial world as other suppliers.
But maybe not.