Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST)

In parallel to the DARPA CALF program, the Air Force and the Navy initiated the Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) Program in late 1993 as a result of the DoD's Bottom Up Review (BUR) of US military forces and modernization plans. The BUR was formally begun on 23 February 1993 with the purpose of defining a strategy for defense planning in the post-Cold War era. It addressed issues of force structure, modernization, affordability, and other factors related to the United States' ability to achieve its military objectives. The BUR was based on the assumption that the US should maintain the ability to fight and win two near simultaneous Major Regional Conflicts (MRCs).

In September 1993, the results of the BUR were formally announced. The major tactical aviation results of the BUR were to continue the ongoing F-22 and F/A-18E/F programs, cancel the Multi-Role Fighter (MRF) and the A/F-X programs, curtail F-16 and F/A-18C/D procurement and initiate the JAST Program. The BUR stated that JAST would focus on common technologies and components in the areas of avionics, propulsion, ground support, munitions, training and mission planning. "The JAST program will develop several technology demonstrator aircraft to explore different technologies that could be incorporated into future aircraft. From these technology demonstrators, prototype aircraft would then be developed to help choose the next-generation replacement for the A-6, F-14, F-16 and F-111 as they reach the end of their service lives."

Secretary of Defense Les Aspin initiated the JAST program to serve as the Department of Defense's focal point for defining future strike systems. Using a joint Navy and Air Force integrated product team of war fighters and technologists, the JAST program planned to explore and demonstrate affordable technologies and manufacturing processes. By reducing the life cycle cost of future strike systems and promoting joint service use and commonality, JAST was to support development and production of next generation strike weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and allies.

The JAST program office was established on 27 January 1994. Its mission was to define and develop aircraft, weapon, and sensor technology that would support the future development of tactical aircraft. The JAST program initiated conceptual design studies with Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas, and Pratt and Whitney. The objective of these studies was to define a technology maturation program, but was not focused on flight demonstration of a specific aircraft concept. The program subsequently moved from a broad, all-encompassing program to one that would develop a common family of aircraft to replace several aging US and UK aircraft.

By the end of 1994, the JAST program had absorbed the DARPA Common Affordable Lightweight Fighter (CALF) program. CALF, then renamed ALF, became the primary focus of JAST. Congress subsequently mandated the merger of JAST with the DARPA Advanced Short Take-Off / Vertical Landing program. As JAST was already considering STOVL variants, this merger was accommodated with comparatively little disruption. The JAST Program initially explored a wide range of potential strike warfare concepts using six-month, Concept Exploration (CE) study contracts awarded in May 1994. The findings of the CE studies showed that a "tri-service family" of aircraft was the most affordable solution to the collective joint-service needs. The tri-service family would entail a single basic airframe design with three distinct variants: Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) for the U.S. Air Force to complement the F-22 Raptor and replace the aging F-16 Fighting Falcon and the A-10 Thunderbolt; Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing (STOVL) for the U.S. Marine Corps to replace both the AV-8B Harrier and the F/A-18 C/D Hornet; and a Carrier (CV) variant for the U.S. Navy to complement the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

Following numerous trade studies, two critical decisions were made: the JAST family of aircraft would be single-crew and single-engine. Navy attack/fighter aircraft have been preferred to have two engines in case one is lost during flight. The choice of a single-crew aircraft was accepted - subject to continued studies and appropriate technology maturation - on the projection that a single crewmember could perform all of the intended missions.

The Joint Advanced Strike Technology (JAST) Program Office announced the award of 24 contracts for concept definition and design research on 22 December 1994. The JAST program received 150 proposals. The contracts were awarded in five broad areas: weapon system concepts, avionics, air vehicle structures and materials, propulsion concepts / components, and modeling, simulation and analyses. Focus of the contractual efforts is on research related to definition of Joint Strike Aircraft Weapon Systems and Technology Maturation to reduce the cost for the next generation of Joint Strike Warfare weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

The contracts culminated the JAST program's second major contractual effort and were awarded using a highly streamlined paperless contracting process. The JAST program used a simplified solicitation vehicle, proposals were submitted on electronic media, evaluated electronically, and awarded using an innovative electronic contracting officer support tool developed by the JAST program. These streamlined methods and electronic processes saved both the government and industry time and effort.

The following JAST program contracts were awarded and announced on Dec. 22, 1994:

Prime: Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, WA.
Title: Tri-Service Weapon System Concept
Award: $27,614,120

Prime: McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, St. Louis, MO.
Title: Joint Strike Weapon System Concept Definition and Design Research
Award: $28,193,501

Prime: Northrop Grumman Corp. Advanced Technology and Development Center, Pico Rivera, CA
Title: Joint Strike Weapon System Concept Definition and Design Research
Award: $24,085,919

Prime: Lockheed Ft. Worth Co., Ft. Worth, TX
Title: Joint Strike Weapon System Concept Definition and Design Research
Award: $19,900,000

Prime: Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, WA.
Title: Avionics Virtual Systems Engineering and Prototyping
Award: $2,288,774

Prime: Northrop Grumman Corp. B-2 Division, Pico Rivera, CA.
Title: Avionics Virtual Systems Engineering and Prototyping
Award: $2,125,190

Prime: Texas Instruments Inc. Defense Systems & Electronics Group, Plano, TX.
Title: Avionics Virtual Systems Engineering
Award: $2,464,392

Prime: Lockheed Ft. Worth Co., Ft. Worth, TX.
Title: On-Board Off-Board Information Fusion
Award: $2,016,004

Prime: Lockheed Ft. Worth Co., Ft. Worth, TX
Title: Structurally Integrated Reconfigurable Multi-function Apertures (SIRMA) Study
Award: $441,983

Prime: Hughes Aircraft Co., El Segundo, CA.
Title: Wideband Integrated Forebody (IFB) Technology Maturation
Award: $1,310,174

Prime: TRW Avionics and Surveillance Group, Beavercreek, OH.
Title: Advanced Strike Integrated Diagnostics (ASID)
Award: $2,004,219

Prime: Unisys Government Systems Group, Eagan, MN.
Title: Scaleable Multiprocessing System (SMPS)
Award: $1,210,000

Prime: Westinghouse Electric Systems, Electronics Systems, Baltimore, MD.
Title: Affordable RF/IF Packaging
Award: $314,943

Prime: Martin Marietta Technologies, Inc., Electronics and Missiles, Orlando, FL.
Title: JAST Affordable Modular EO/IR Sensor Subsystem
Award: $535,755

Prime: Rockwell International Collins Avionics & Communications Division, Cedar Rapids, IA.
Title: RF Technology Maturation
Award: $719,484

Prime: Hughes Aircraft Co., El Segundo, CA.
Title: JAST Secure Avionics Architecture Concept Development
Award: $291,980

Prime: D. Gustavson, Los Altos, CA.
Title: Compare Performance of Proposed SCI/RT Mechanisms
Award: $50,000

Prime: Pratt & Whitney Government Engines and Space Propulsion, United Technologies Corp., West Palm Beach, FL.
Title: JAST Propulsion System Demos/ JAST Maturing Technologies in an Engine Environment
Award: $5,448,143

Prime: GE Aircraft Engines, Cincinnati, OH.
Title: Low Cost Nozzles for Enhanced Strike Effectiveness / Turbocooler Engine Demonstration for Flexible Thermal Management
Award: $3,657,288

Prime: Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, WA.
Title: JAST Multi-service Common Airframe
Award: $1,740,920

Prime: ASI Systems International, Ridgecrest, CA.
Title: Spreadsheet Methodology for Tradeoff Analysis
Award: $346,553

Prime: Aerodyne Research Inc., Billerica, MA.
Title: Advanced Survivability Model for Strike Warfare
Award: $250,920

Prime: Geodynamics Corp., Colorado Springs, CO.
Title: Off-Board MS&A Concept Definition and Design Research
Award: $486,659

Prime: Rockwell International, Seal Beach, CA.
Title: Fluidic Thrust Vectoring Nozzle Study
Award: $278,051

The JAST program made significant progress in establishing an affordable family of next generation strike weapon systems. With the merger of the JAST and Advanced Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (ASTOVL) programs, the stage was set for wider dialogue with allies on defense cooperation on fighter aircraft. The US welcomed discussions with its allies on their participation in the JAST program.

It was the policy of the Department of Defense that this kind of participation must take place within an explicit framework for international defense cooperation. Because of the likely future resource environment, DoD's objective was to design a framework for closer cooperation to ensure that the next generation strike aircraft represents the most advanced, yet affordable, program. An explicit framework for international cooperation in the JAST program was seen as the best way to ensure long-term international participation. Therefore, until such a framework is formulated, cooperation will be limited to work begun under the ASTOVL framework and specific subcontract tasks within the concept definition and design research phase of the JAST program. Contracts beyond the concept definition and design research phase would be considered only within the framework for international defense cooperation, established in consultation with US allies.

In October 1994, concerned that the two programs contained significant overlap, the US Congress merged the DARPA/Navy ASTOVL/CALF program into the JAST program with the stipulation that the program maintain a STOVL variant to meet U.S. Marine Corps needs. Due to the continued interest by the UK MOD, a representative was assigned to the JAST program office and discussions were begun regarding a new MOU governing participation in the JAST program. Subsequently, leadership from the ASTOVL/CALF and JSF programs worked to integrate their program activities and define a new, three aircraft variant program.

Upon review of the ASTOVL/CALF program activities and demonstration plans, JAST program leadership realized that the focused low cost demonstration phase envisioned by the DARPA program was the best way to mature the technologies required for Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) as well as to build and maintain program advocacy. Moreover the demonstration program would add focus to the existing JAST technology maturation program and allow improved filtering of the technologies. Thus a new JAST vision was created for a family of aircraft with three variants: A Conventional TakeOff and Landing (CTOL) for the US and Royal Air Forces, a Carrier Version (CV) for the U.S. Navy and a STOVL version for the Royal Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

JSF and CALF program reviews were conducted jointly as a means of merging the activities of both the government and industry teams. Results from both the ASTOVL/CALF and JAST design trade studies were used as a basis for developing a new 3 variant family of aircraft for each contractor.

In the spring of 1995, all three of the contractor teams selected derivatives of the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) F119 engine to power their aircraft. Accordingly, in November 1995, P&W was awarded a contract for preliminary design of each of the primary JSF engine concepts. Concurrently, General Electric was awarded a contract to investigate whether the GE F110 or YF120 could be developed into an alternate engine for one or more of the JSF variants. In 1996, the YF120 was identified as the "best fit" for a tri-service solution and GE initiated preliminary design efforts. Several Defense Acquisition Board (DAB)-level program reviews were conducted in late 1995. The final Requests for Proposal (RFP) were issued to the contractors in March 1996. By that time the JAST program name had changed to Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). Following the completion of the CALF Pase II critical technology validation contracts in spring of 1996, all efforts were consolidated under JSF.

Prognostics and Health Management (PHM)

Following the formation of the JSF program, DARPA continued to provide significant contributions. Because of his experience negotiating the ASTOVL/CALF MOU with the UK, Dr. Bill Scheuren (DARPA TTO Program Manager) was assigned as the Director for International Programs. During his time in that position, Dr. Scheuren successfully negotiated a new MOU with the UK for the Concept Demonstration Program as well as with Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. Due to the growth of the international program as well as the need to continue leveraging new technologies for the program, Dr. Scheuren was reassigned as the director of Joint Advanced Strike Technologies (JAST). His charter was to identify promising technologies across the services and DARPA that could be integrated into JSF. The primary focus of these activities was on the supportability for two reasons. First, supportability was the least mature area of JSF, and second supportability is where the most cost effectiveness could be achieved. Based on extensive technology savings conducted by the JAST directorate across government and industry research and development activities, a new initiative was created called Prognostics and Health Management (PHM).

Prognostics and Health Management evolved from a vision of advanced diagnostics that purported to use advanced sensors to monitor and manage aircraft health. Preliminary diagnostic technology maturation efforts were aimed at engine technology, but were very narrow in focus and baselined to legacy aircraft. In 1997, at a JSF Systems Engineering Offsite, former JSF Program Director Admiral Steidle challenged Dr. Scheuren, Director of JAST, to develop/transition and mature leading edge technologies to monitor, predict, and manage engine and aircraft health.

Initial efforts were aimed at developing sensors to monitor compressor blades to predict blade crack and blade growth. The sensor matured for this purpose was a General Dynamics Eddy Current Sensor. The Program Office contracted with the primary and alternate engine companies (Pratt & Whitney and General Electric) to conduct force fault experiments wherein problems like compressor blade cracks and actual blade failures were introduced to check the accuracy of PHM hardware. It was clear that the scope and capabilities of the PHM system should be expanded to include a greater predictive capability to determine entire aircraft health, not just engine health. The JSF PHM system was further developed to include an aircraft PHM architecture enabled by model-based reasoning. Both weapon systems contractors, Lockheed and Boeing, developed systems that utilized the concept of area reasoners for managing PHM components and information across the aircraft.

The PHM system was rapidly expanding and was ultimately aimed at enabling the JSF to meet JIRD-drive goals of reduced maintenance manpower by 40%, increased combat sortie generation rates by 25%, and reduced logistics footprints by 50%, all at a cheaper life cycle cost as compared with legacy aircraft. Historically, a major emphasis of military aircraft maintenance has been to schedule events on a periodic basis, where maintainers examine the aircraft without knowledge of existing faults. It was soon clear that, with a robust PHM system, the logistics and support concept for the weapon system could be revolutionized. Autonomic Logistics was then conceived out of the realization that a comprehensive prognostics and health management development plan would address the preeminent issues of operational readiness, flight safety and tactical aircraft life cycle costs.

The concept of Autonomic Logistics quickly took root in the JSF Program Office and soon was known to everyone. Autonomic Logistics would be quipped as "the support concept for the 21st century", so much so that the supportability directorate of the program office officially changed its title to the Autonomic Logistics Directorate in October, 1999. The revolutionary concept was that all of the common logistics and maintenance actions for the aircraft would become automated, thus eliminating manpower and human error. Aircraft flight data would be automatically downloaded into a data warehouse that would in turn mine the data for anomalies in an effort to detect existing or impending faults. Additionally, the majority of mission and flight critical faults would be detected and isolated real-time on-board the aircraft to enhance mission reliability and safety. Ordering and tracking of spares parts would also be handled automatically. Ideally, a part failing on-board an aircraft during a mission would be isolated, reported to the ground maintenance system, have a spare lined up and have alerted all maintenance personnel as to the maintenance action before the aircraft's return from the mission, all without human intervention. Autonomic Logistics will also be responsible for mission planning, route planning, pilot selection, aircraft selection based upon flight worthiness for the particular mission. All of these are capable of being overridden by a person with the proper credentials should they not be an optimal solution for the mission.

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