Chassis Plans has a long history of supporting complex military programs by providing custom rugged computer and display systems. We’re proud to include the F35 Joint Strike Fighter in that list. The attached photo shows an F35 on the flight line at Elgin AFB with the engine running while a technician monitors the aircraft systems with a Chassis Plans’ custom portable computer.
Every F35 that has or is flying is connected to one of these custom 3-screen portable computers prior to flight. The F35 is fly-by-wire and every system can be accessed, manipulated and tested via a bus which is brought out to the right side of the aircraft. The Chassis Plans’ systems were there for initial manufacturing test in the factory, tests of the initial prototypes at Edwards AFB in the Mojave Desert, CA, and test and configuration of all the deployed aircraft world-wide. This includes the STOL version deployed on Navy carriers.
The Chassis Plans’ portable system is used for aircraft configuration, firmware upload, flight data download, etc.
These are highly customized systems designed and built specifically for this program. Custom communications boards are installed to communicate with the aircraft via three connectors on the side of the aircraft. At one time, during initial flight testing, Chassis Plans provided an additional 3 LCDs which mounted to the top of the portable computer to provide a total of 6 17″ 1280×1024 displays.
These systems are used in a wide variety of harsh environments. Flight lines and carrier decks are not known for being climate controlled. While the prototypes were at Edwards AFB, they were connected to one of these portable computers for engine start inside the shelters, the computer was disconnected and tossed into the back of a pickup truck which was driven to the end of the runway, then reconnected to the aircraft for final preflight testing. Not a smooth ride.
There is an Australian 60 Minutes segment about the F35’s for Australia which can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zn0FHDhEK4 . At 6:18 into the story, there is a shot of the Chassis Plans portable computer with people clustered around debugging an aircraft issue.
Contact Chassis Plans to inquire how we can work with you to solve your application problems with our custom solutions.
Photo courtesy of Northwest Florida Daily News.