July 24 (UPI) -- Anti-ground collision software is coming to F-35 fighter planes seven years ahead of schedule, maker Lockheed Martin announced on Wednesday.
Integration of the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, or Auto-GCAS, has begun on U.S. Air Force F-35As in the fleet. The system employs a digital terrain elevation database to calculate an aircraft's relative position above the ground.
If the system senses that the aircraft is on a collision course with the ground that is outside of normal parameters, it automatically commands the aircraft to straighten itself, and execute a recovery maneuver. It is of particular value if a pilot becomes unconscious, by stabilizing the plane before it strikes the ground.
"This is a great day for the warfighter as the Auto-GCAS is a proven system that is long overdue," said Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, F-35 Program Executive Officer. "Over the service life of the F-35 fleet, having Auto-GCAS is estimated to prevent more than 26 ground collisions from happening. It is indeed a remarkable achievement in aeronautics which will improve the performance, efficiency, and safety of the F-35. The time and effort expended to deliver this critical warfighting capability is worth it. It will save lives."
The system was developed in 2014 for use on F-16 fighter planes and is responsible for saving the lives of eight pilots. It is a joint development of Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Air Force and the F-35 Joint Program Office, and originally scheduled for delivery in 2026.