Lockheed Martin and U.S Air Forces’ have started integrating the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) on to Air Force F-35As in the fleet. Leveraging a rapid, agile development, test, and contracting approach, the joint government and industry team successfully fielded the life-saving technology seven years earlier than previously planned.
Eric Fick, F-35 Program Executive Officer, commented, “Expediting this life-saving technology into the F-35 across the global fleet will bring more warfighters home. Over the service life of the F-35 fleet, having Auto-GCAS is estimated to prevent more than 26 ground collisions from happening.”
Originally developed for the F-16 in partnership with NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Auto-GCAS uses terrain mapping, geolocation and automation to detect and avoid potential ground collisions. When the program recognizes imminent impact, it will prompt the pilot to take action. If the pilot is unresponsive, Auto-GCAS assumes temporary control to divert the aircraft out of harm’s way, and then returns control of the aircraft to the pilot once on a safe trajectory.
The system has been operating successfully aboard the F-16 for more than five years and has already been credited with saving eight F-16 pilots’ lives since 2014.
Auto-GCAS was originally slated for delivery in the 2026 timeframe. To accelerate the technology, Air Force Research Laboratory and Lockheed Martin conducted positive feasibility studies and the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin then implemented an agile approach to develop the technology for integration on the F-35.
U.S. Air Force F-35As are the first to receive Auto-GCAS, and the system will next be integrated aboard the F-35B and F-35C variants.