Lockheed Pitches Smaller, Cheaper F-35 Simulator

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Mission Rehearsal Trainer-Lightning Integrated Training Environment.
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Mission Rehearsal Trainer-Lightning Integrated Training Environment.
Credit: Lockheed Martin

ORLANDO, FLORIDA—Lockheed Martin is internally developing a smaller, cheaper mission rehearsal training simulator to give F-35 pilots the ability to practice without relying on the existing large, full-mission simulators.

The F-35 Mission Rehearsal Trainer-Lightning Integrated Training Environment (MRT LITE) is about one-eighth the size of the full-mission simulator, with a 90% reduction in the hardware footprint. The system has a modular configuration and can be packed up to move more easily and be deployed if needed.

Erik Etz, Lockheed Martin’s senior manager of new business, strategy and road maps, said the need for smaller simulators is anticipated as more F-35 operating locations stand up and sea-based jets head out on ships that are not able to support the full-mission simulator. Adding the cheaper MRT LITE to existing training sites also would allow pilots to train in larger formations, he said.

The system has a cockpit with controls, including a touch screen in front of the pilot replicating control screens in the aircraft. Unlike the full-mission simulator that has a full, 360-deg. view, the smaller system uses three large screens in front of the pilot. Etz said the difference in displays means the smaller system would be more effective for pilots to train for beyond-visual-range situations, as opposed to a dogfight or other scenarios that requires the full 360-deg. view.

A demonstrator of the system runs the Lockheed Martin-developed open simulation software Prepar3d, which can connect to other simulators at other locations to allow pilots to train together. Lockheed is in the process of developing the classified Operational Flight Program system, which would allow the simulator to replicate weapons systems and other classified elements.

Lockheed has been developing the system over the past 18 months, and is reaching out to the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to figure out what their requirements would be if the system were to be acquired, said Raashi Quattlebaum, Lockheed’s vice president of F-35 training and logistics. Lockheed would not provide an estimate of the system’s cost, but said it is significantly less than the existing full mission simulators.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.