Australia has commissioned a domestically-built full-scale model of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) for use by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) to study the impact of electromagnetic compatibility and interference on it.

Australia’s minister for defence, Senator David, said the ‘Iron Bird’ F-35A JSF would be tested under simulated electromagnetic conditions during the acquisition and through-life sustainment of the JSF.

"The United States Joint Strike Fighter Program Office asked the DSTO to undertake this research, based on its world class expertise in investigating electromagnetic environmental effects," Johnston explained.

The trials are aimed at assuring that the JSF is protected against electromagnetic environmental effects, including those due to lightning and broadcast transmissions, which could impact the aircraft’s performance and safety.

In addition to supporting the jet’s verification for compliance and airworthiness certification, the DSTO test processes further validate and monitor the JSF’s potential to survive electromagnetic exposure and reduce any impact on its systems and performance.

"The impact of these interferences needs to be well understood and appropriately managed," Senator Johnston added. "The data captured during DSTO testing will help in providing potential reductions in the cost of owning the JSF fleet and enhancing the aircraft’s capability."

The JSF’s complex electronics, sophisticated software, and a structural airframe made of composite elements to assure stealth, make it vulnerable to electromagnetic interference from both naturally occurring phenomena and artificial sources, such as telecommunication transmissions, radar, and lightning strikes.

Australia recently committed to procuring further 58 JSF aircraft, bringing the overall fleet to 72, with the delivery of first two jets anticipated during 2014 15 to an US-based training facility.

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