The Bare Faced Cheek of Lockheed Martin

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.

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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.

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stephen duckworth
September 13, 2015 7:54 pm

Damm straight TD , it looks like a straight upgrade to what was already included so jus tack it on and push it as an no additional cost enhancement to future customers

September 13, 2015 8:02 pm

Are the unit costs for the rest of it (engine included) going down as promised? How does it compare in capability (with this upgraded bit) with, let’s say, Tr3 Tiffie?

I would look at the bigger picture as there is nothing extraordinary in such a long development cycle with some component needing an update.

September 14, 2015 12:45 am

Has Bill Sweetman taken over the editorial at TD?

There is nothing Bare Faced or unreasonable about it at all, it would be an odd business model for Lockheed Martin to offer an upgrade outside of the baseline for no financial return as some form of reparation to smooth feathers.

The current EOTS meets the program baseline, if a customer nation wants more capability beyond that then they have to pay for it.

Jeremy M H
September 14, 2015 1:15 am

And everyone knows the deal going into these things. No extras were stumped up on Eurofighter because it was late. Are people demanding extra capability from A400m beyond what they paid for because it is late?

F-35 has plenty of issues. But expecting upgrades beyond the baseline just tossed in is silly.

The fact is no one will ever be happy with a high end combat jet development program. To get it done you have to freeze some aspects of the design at some point. You either come back and upgrade beyond that baseline, for a cost, or you live with (or toss in the bin depending) something like Tranche 1 tiffy.

September 14, 2015 6:37 am

F-35 has the EOTS the customer specified, that’s not LM’s fault so calm down with the Sweetman style unhinged ranting.

The Other Chris
September 14, 2015 7:02 am

Lead may be buried a little (though to a Brit, “cheek” isn’t necessarily a bad thing!).

Main take away is the ease with which a sensor upgrade has been produced and plugged into the platform, at a stroke removing one of the largest criticisms of the aircraft’s sensors of late.

It’s not as if other operators do not have to fork out to upgrade the podded systems they’ve bought for their fourth generation platforms over their baseline sensors.

Rocket Banana
September 14, 2015 7:03 am

…what was cutting edge is no longer. Despite EOTS meeting the original contract specification, things, and expectations, have moved on.

What a fantastic business model!

The Other Chris
September 14, 2015 8:05 am

It’s almost as if an industry has sprouted that charges money in return for labour.

September 14, 2015 8:24 am


I would agree with you if the F35 had not just entered service after numerous delays and missing it’s milestones and who’s main selling point is stealth, sensor fusion . The need or desire to update the sensors is a direct consequence to the poor performance of the programme, the requirement of users of sensor pods to upgrade them is not really a direct comparison as the pods themselves have been in service for decades and have constantly been upgraded over their service life, at the time they entered service they were the best technology could offer.

*And before I get tagged as an F35 hater I understand that the F35 is the only game in town for our needs but when you consider that this is the biggest US defence programme in history I think people have the right to ask questions of the programme.

Rocket Banana
September 14, 2015 8:55 am

Would you like to buy a PC?

Dual Intel Xeon E5-2699
512Gb of DDR4-2133
Black with some nice blue lights

Pretty good at the moment. The trouble is that I’ll take your money and deliver it in two decades time when it is about as relevant as a turnip.

Such is the sloth of military procurement.

September 14, 2015 9:22 am
Reply to  Rocket Banana

Simon, nahh.

Google has already reinvented the mainframe model of computing, but I am still missing the green characters on a black screen (nothing’s perfect, I know, but still longing for it).

September 14, 2015 9:53 am


The F-35 could have made this happen years ago if the customer had demanded it, LM is demonstrating its neither difficult nor particularly expensive, this is a customer rather than industry failure.

Engineer Tom
September 14, 2015 9:56 am

It actually looks good to me that LM have funded the R&D themselves, rather than wait for the DoD to say we want it upgraded and then start work on it,

September 14, 2015 10:34 am


In what way is it a customer problem? the programme has missed numerous milestones and it’s initial entry to service by years. Why would the customer put up more money over and above the extra money it has/will pay due to an under performing programme to improve systems that would have been good enough for the job if the timetable had been met?


Or the fact that LM have spent some R&D money show’s that they see a return on their money due to the sensors not being quite up there or that to sell the aircraft they need its sensors to be every bit at the leading edge of technology as the selling point of the aircraft is sensor fusion ie see first and shoot first to overcome more agile and numerous 4/4.5 gen aircraft.

stephen duckworth
September 14, 2015 10:56 am

Some of the end users of the F35 have incurred additional costs due to its delay for front line service having to put considerable expenditure into service extensions into tired old airframes and purchasing various bolt on pods to enable them to use the latest weapons or gleen the SIGINT from the battle space to enable missions to planned. If the F35B was in service now would we need to spend on Typhoon being able to use ground attack munitions. Would the USMC and the Italians have shinny new VTOL aircraft instead of stretching out the AV8B’s and perhaps risking pilots lives in knackered kit. Or put it another way if your meals in a restaurant are hours late a complementary glass of wine is usually welcomed :-) Or as LM are the only restaurant in town too smug to bother.

September 14, 2015 10:57 am

There is another point here not to be missed. While the basic airframe is expected to last say 7,000-10,000 flight hours the EOTS is essentially an electronic system. As such Moores Law means that processing power increases by x2 every 18mths.

The challenge for the F35, and all Air Forces buying it, is to recognize that there will be many opportunities to upgrade all of the electronics on the air frame over the next 25 years. The challenge is how much can you afford to perform say an electronic package upgrade every 5 years eg: 5 times in the life of the aircraft? Rather like a mid-life upgrade performed on ships – just much more frequently.

The question then is do we need to upgrade if the systems are comparable or better than the expected threats. There is no mention of cost or added cost for this upgrade but I would assume (hope) that the RAF will specify the new system when they (finally) place orders? With RAF delivery in numbers not expected before 2020+ are they really going to install an EOTS system built with 2000 technnolgy?

September 14, 2015 11:02 am

PS. Missed the specification which now includes “High Definition Television” for the pilot but no mention of which channels they can watch? Probably extra cost to get Sky Sport I guess!!

September 14, 2015 11:15 am

At least it does show that the F-35 and variants are able to support ‘plug in a play’ upgrades and equipment, i.e future-proofed. It seems, might not be as easy as ‘LockMart’ is revealing ;)

The Other Chris
September 14, 2015 11:15 am

Why are we bashing a supplier for delivering a system that is superior to what was ordered by the customer in the first place (easy to forget that “standard” EOTS exceeds specification it seems), and then developing a further enhancement from their own pocket as technology has progressed?

They’re doing what critics are wanting: Funded a development themselves so they can offer a cutting edge MOTS option without impacting performance.

We rapidly re-purposed and purchased TIALD pods, then very quickly added Sniper pods to inventory, for our Harrier fleets in order to provide capabilities and improvements over the “baseline/standard” built-in sensors that were specified and accepted at their points of entry to service.

We don;t even know the cost of the Advanced EOTS. Might be minimal. Might be equivalent to the more expensive $1.8b-$3.4b Sniper pod arrangements (depending on model).

LM and PW are carrying 100% of overspends and 50% of concurrency costs, no matter what the overspends and concurrency reported to the various audit offices are. That leaves the customer free to choose from the options brochure and haggle over upgrades…

…such as paying for R&D out of their own pocket perhaps leaving a purchase price largely down to material and labour for example?

In any case, the UK at most has ordered 14 standard EOTS to date and at least 4 of those (test and training aircraft) will likely never be upgraded.

Jeremy M H
September 14, 2015 11:33 am
Reply to  Rocket Banana


Except what you are buying doesn’t exist yet. Consumer products are a poor analogy because they exist to make a profit and innovate to that end.

When you ask for a computer that exist they just build it for you. Try calling and asking for a computer that doesn’t exist and they won’t even quote you a price.

Rocket Banana
September 14, 2015 12:13 pm


The analogy was for deployed obsolescence caused by procurement and industrial sloth.

If the MoD/DoD decided it needed a few new servers (PC was a bad choice above) it would take so long to decide and spec the requirement, and then change its mind, and then change it back again, that when it got what it thought it wanted it would be obsolete. Add to that a listed company that has to consider it’s shareholder’s profits and, well…

I’m not “bashing” F35. I’m actually “bashing” the time it takes to undertake these projects because they’re over specified and complex. On an international scale like the F35 project there’s little else other than to define a jack of all trades. It is definitely a massive undertaking and if it works it is pure genius. The trouble is we’ve also fielded the worlds best air defence destroyer which has at its heart a super-computer… that is as powerful as a modern mobile phone.

Okay, I just made that up (give or take) but you get the idea ;-)

The thing I find irritating is that everyone goes on about F35’s systems and sensors when in actual fact it is just a plane… okay, an LO plane, but nothing particularly special. If we had simply procured the plane and then worried about pilot aiding AI, multi-gigabit fiber switch fabric and sensor fusion, I feel we would already have something fielded, and would not be at quite as much of LM’s mercy.

ToC is quite correct that there’s nothing wrong with LM doing what they are doing.

September 14, 2015 2:02 pm

I suppose the real question is whether the replacement newer spec unit is actually any more expensive to buy/build than the original (I suspect it will probably be as cheap or cheaper at component level). The buyer (USAF) has already paid for the design and software. Therefore the incremental cost ought to be pretty small surely ?

September 14, 2015 2:04 pm

There was a leaked report out a few months ago were it was stated the targeting system on f 35 was a decade out of date compared to what’s on Jets today. It was roundly ridiculed by the usual supports at the time because the f35 is so advanced, this latest announcement would indicate that report was correct. Most of the sensors on f35 are now operational on other jets.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
September 14, 2015 2:41 pm

Though the UK has no other option than the F-35B we must realise that the a/c has been so many years in development that many of the systems incorporated will be old technology when it becomes operational, like the EOTPS, Gen. Carlisle, chief of the USAF air combat command talk about this on the 1st of June and the limitations of the radar. Would not be surprised many systems were past its sell by date when FOC is reached in 2027.

The a/c hardware changes are due to be sorted by LRIP 11 when the 494th airframe enters production.

No news on when the P&W F135 engine will have a permanent fix to the problem of bending and the resultant rubbing and catching fire, temporary fix in place, no doubt with reduced power and increased fuel consumption.

The software with 8 million plus lines of code is in bigger trouble in that only in lot 12 will Block 3.6 be available for the limited initial operational capability for the USAF, even that planned milestone event is only after they pushed capabilities out of Block 3.6 into the future Block 4 including the radar wide angle surveillance mode, limiting it to narrow beam synthetic mode.

The fifth generation ‘stealth’ aircraft are losing their edge as technologies come on stream to counter them. The new infra red sensors working with additional wavebands for increased ranges with detection of up to 60 miles and with Russia and China having the time to develop and bring into production modern HF radars which are not affected by the stealth coating/design.

The Other Chris
September 14, 2015 3:15 pm


The EOTS solution is the subject of this article.

You’re a bit behind the curve on the engine solution (q.v. pre-trenching vs burn-in), Big SAR and the good news for the UK that is the Block 4 point release shift as well.

Some additional food for thought: UHF radar et al may provide the ability to detect that a low observable aircraft might be “out there” by continually transmitting and listening on its bandwidth. It does not guarantee the ability to track or even provide a lock. Have you considered the vulnerability of such, typically large array, systems to geolocation and targeting in return, not to mention vulnerability to low observable EW countermeasures tailored to make a difficult detection task harder?

September 14, 2015 4:20 pm

I’m just interested to see the EOTS system design in the image, and how it is fully carried inside the aircraft. Essentially the only projecting parts are the mirrors on the turntable, which sit neatly behind the faceted glass shield. Makes a nice change from the ball-style EOTS mounts we see on just about every other aircraft and targeting pod.

Engineer Tom
September 14, 2015 4:32 pm

@ TD
Surely it’s target is on the ground, so from height it will need a much smaller field of view than say a helicopter. as I understand it the ball design is so it can look virtually horizontally which would be a waste of time on an F35, and also would screw with the LO and Aerodynamics.

Stu W
September 14, 2015 4:37 pm

The way around this occurring in the future is you don’t spec the component you spec the hole it will fit in. We see this happening today with other systems.. we need a new missile but btw it must fit in a VLS tube. ISO shipping container logic if you like.

The Other Chris
September 14, 2015 5:12 pm

So what we should have done is created an area for us to slot in Advanced EOTS replacement sensors and designed in an internal weapons bay to carry a variety of payloads?

September 14, 2015 8:31 pm

Thought I would copy this little gem from ‘DuffelBlog’.

Lockheed Upbeat Despite F-35 Losing Dogfight To Red Baron

BETHESDA, Md. — A spokesman for Lockheed Martin today denied that there is any reason to be alarmed about possible shortcomings of the military’s newest and most expensive fighter plane after reports surfaced this weekend that an F-35, piloted by a crack Air Force fighter pilot, lost a mock dogfight with a Fokker Dr.I Triplane similar to the aircraft once piloted by World War I German Ace Manfred von Richtofen, the “Red Baron,” piloted by a World War I reenactor.

“The F-35 isn’t really meant for that kind of fighting,” said Lance McCory, a Lockheed spokesman. “We intend it to be a first-rate mulitrole attack aircraft, and to excel at long-range fighting, what we call BVR, or ‘Beyond Visual Range’ air combat. Not to worry about some Hun who’s been dead a hundred years. Frankly, the two aircraft involved in this battle represent two different philosophies of air combat.”

The Fokker Dr.I Triplane, made of wood and doped linen, entered service with the German Army Air service in 1917. It was famous for its considerable maneuverability and its high rate of climb. The pilot sat in an open cockpit, exposed to the weather, and had primitive controls by today’s standards.

McCory went on to add, “The Dr.I triplane might out climb, out turn, and out dive the F-35, but where is its radar, huh? Where are its sensors? Where is the laser terrain guidance? Huh? Sure, up close, in a knife fight, the Dr.I has machine guns, and an F-35 pilot just has his sidearm. And [the Dr.I’s] cloth wings are nearly invisible to radar. But we have ‘the world’s most advanced fighter jet.’”

Capt. A.J. Schrag, an Air Combat Command spokesman, said “There’s no way to adapt the [Dr.I] airframe to carry the required missiles and radar. It might be good in a dogfight, but not standing off for close air support, and it’s completely hopeless when it comes to engaging targets in a BVR-type air battle.”

Meanwhile, according to a source close to the recent dogfight, the F-35 “turns like a garbage truck. It might be faster than the triplane, but that doesn’t matter in a stall fight.”

Lockheed officials have separately downplayed reports that the same F-35, flown by the same pilot, previously lost mock dogfights with the Goodyear Blimp and a beagle on a flying doghouse.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III declined comment through a spokesman, saying only, “Curse you, Red Baron!”

September 14, 2015 9:28 pm

I don’t get the point, why should Lockheed Martin care about overrun or over cost aircraft. It was the DOD/MOD that signed the contract. Any commercial contract includes penalty clauses for failure to deliver. If the DOD/MOD were stupid enough not to include appropriate clauses with the F-35, then its there own look out, or maybe the appropriate brown paper bags full of paper were delivered and everyone is happy.

From my own experiences with projects in the private sector, blame is generally two ways, one partner over promises and the other changes their minds so many times mid project that it causes a mess.

Will the F-35 end up being a decent aircraft that is capable of delivering on the promise, no one knows, but without the full story of what happened we can’t blame Lockheed Martin for wanting to making more profit from the mess.

September 14, 2015 10:42 pm

I sort of do get the the point; it has always been part of my mindset that the defence industry is a bit different from mainstream commercial businesses in that it has what amounts to a moral responsibility to do its very best for the forces personnel, where sometimes that means putting the needs of the User first – even before the shareholder. I have worked on projects where the senior management has called ‘stop work’ because costs were rising and there wasn’t enough profit, when the product was fully achievable and the User very keen to get it in service. That just didn’t seem to be the right thing to do; it smacked of putting no value at all on the lives that might depend on the delivered product.

Profit? Certainly a company should expect to make profit of reasonable margin or else the business will not survive. But while it might be fine to make profit the only criteria in the management of a burger bar, its not right in the life & death business of defence materiel. And its definitely not right to sit back and watch a programme go to hell in a handbasket if it could have been kept on the right tracks relatively easily just because there was more profit to be had in the recovery programme.

In this case I know you are not suggesting (nor am I) that LM is in any way mismanaging for maximum profit; I’m just taking the point in isolation that there is a sort of moral military covenant between defence industry and User, especially so when lives may depend upon successful product delivery.

September 15, 2015 7:00 am

I don’t think morals and defence industry really go together well, at least not in the traditional sense. A piece of military equipment is designed to kill people as its primary purpose. I understand the arguement that there should be a moral responsbility, but I think in reality their responsibility is to their shareholders over that of the lives of their customers. Same for most companies, profit comes first. Even Apple the bastion of moral standards uses close to slave labour indirectly in their supply chain through the metals etc.

Ironically, the people that the modern equipment will be used against, will no doubt have been customers in the past, so does that give a moral responsilbity to make them less good to save former customers lives.

September 15, 2015 8:26 am

Steve I think your view serves a bit of an injustice to those that work in the defence industry. I have worked alongside many individuals who regularly went far beyond ‘doing a day’s work’ because they cared passionately about the quality of the products being sent to the armed forces. These weren’t people doing the job because it was a bit of fun, or because it was cool to brag about in bars after work (mostly the work was definitely not for discussion with strangers), but because it was important to the User. You may be right at the Board level, maybe for the Directors the need to keep investors on side becomes the major task, but for most of the employees involved there most definitely was a moral imperative to do the right thing. Maybe I was just fortunate to work in an unusually dedicated company.

As for primary purpose, I’m pretty sure its to protect the lives of ‘the good guys’ so they can do their job and come home again. It is not the defence industry that sends the armed forces to war, it is our democratically elected Government that does that. The defence industry’s task is to give our armed forces, and those of our allies and other friendly nations, the best advantage it can to achieve positive resolution with minimal loss of life.

The Other Chris
September 15, 2015 8:32 am

I don’t think morals and defence industry really go together well, at least not in the traditional sense.

A career in the Defence Industry or Services will correct those misconceptions for you.

Back to base principles, defence is primarily posture and deterrence. Detection, protection, survival, advertisement and (yes) potential physical harm. Triggering the mechanism of the most instinctive assessment of whether tangling with another being is worth the risk.

The Defence industry, for most, is about making a difference, hopefully the right difference, via posture and deterrence, and maybe using the kit at hand to intervene in protecting and saving lives.

September 15, 2015 8:40 am

Don’t get my wrong, like any company most of the work force want to do ‘good’, the problem is in the end they have a responsilbity to their shareholders. If a customer doesn’t choose the best most expensive option, then its not in the companies interest to give it to them for free, even if there is a moral justifiction. This is a arguement i have problems with when it comes to hospitals in the US, which refuse to treat people without insurance and chuck them out when it runs out. I don’t like it, but its business, no one will say that the doctors don’t want to do their best for their patience.

The Other Nick
The Other Nick
September 15, 2015 11:56 am

The future generation of EOTS pods, Electro-Optical Target System, LM Sniper, Rafael Litening and Thales Talios take advantage of the new high resolution sensors, which is the update LM is proposing to use for the internal F-35 system in Block 4. My uneducated guess is that the pods will have more capability than the internal F-35 system as they will be able incorporate larger diameter sensors and optics, wide angle to telephoto, at the expense of less ‘stealth’.

The new short waveband infra-red (SWIR) sensors operate in the 1.5 micron range to give improved definition and range from the current EOTS pods which operate in the mid waveband infra-red range, MWIR, of approx. 3.5 microns.

As an aside though the the pods can operate in the IRST mode, Infra-Red Search Track, the F-35 uses the Northrup Grumman DAS IRST, Distributed Aperture System, with six infra-red 95 degree sensors distributed around the a/c.

Northrup Grumman are currently bidding OpenPod for the F-15 IRST, FlightGlobal 01/06/2015, “OpenPod IRST combines state-of-the-art IRST sensor system technology from our partner Selex ES with the latest advances in target identification, clutter rejection and tracking from Northrop Grumman’s F-35 distributed aperture system”, with no news as yet that the the new sensor will be used to update DAS IRST in the F-35.

The F-35 is using old technology before it is operational such is the pace of progress and program delay.

September 17, 2015 6:06 pm
Reply to  DavidNiven

Ahh..but don’t forget the F-35 has a power source for the pilots MP3 player as the pilot waits for the fuel to cool and get permission to actually…really….take to the air….you know like those ‘magnificent men….’.

…sorry…couldn’t resist.