The Joint Program Office (JPO) for the F-35 “Lightning II” Joint-Strike Fighter announced that the program will be implementing life-saving technology into the aircraft platform by 2019, five years ahead of schedule.
This announcement comes after active advocacy for the change by Representative Steve Knight, R-Santa Clarita
The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) uses GPS tracking, avionics integration, and terrain information to save lives and equipment.
If the system detects an impending collision with the surface, the computer will assume temporary control of the aircraft to execute evasive maneuvers. Upon return to a safe flight path, control is returned to the pilot.
“This software has proven to be effective since its integration in 2014 with the F-16 fleet” Said Rep. Knight “If this tech works and is available now, it only makes sense to ensure our next-generation aircraft are equipped with it. This will save millions of dollars in equipment and, more importantly, the lives of our pilots.”
Auto-GCAS was originally slated for installment on the F-35 in 2024.
“This technology was tested here in the Antelope Valley at Edwards Air Force Base and I have met multiple pilots who have attested to its capabilities. I was happy to work with the Department [of Defense], the JPO, and Congressional Leadership to get this across the finish line and in our pilots’ hands as soon as possible.” said Rep. Knight.
On November 1, 2017, Rep. Knight met with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and several airmen to discuss Auto-GCAS. This meeting was documented in this post.
On November 8, 2017, Rep. Knight led a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, urging the Department to expedite the implementation of Auto-GCAS. The letter can be read here.