Image courtesy: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company

The F-35 is getting life-saving automatic ground collision avoidance systems from the F-16

The fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting II stealth multirole fighter is now a safer aircraft to fly thanks to collision avoidance technology originally developed by NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory for the fourth-generation F-16 Fighting Falcon. The F-35 Joint Program Office, U.S. Air Force, and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics are currently integrating life-saving Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance Systems (Auto-GCAS) on USAF F-35As.

Auto-GCAS uses terrain mapping, geolocation, and automation to detect and avoid potential ground collisions in case of pilot spatial disorientation. When the program recognizes imminent impact, it prompts the pilot to take action. If the pilot is unresponsive, Auto-GCAS assumes temporary control and performs emergency maneuvers to avoid ground collision – returning control to the pilot once the aircraft is on a safe trajectory.


Image courtesy: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at



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