JPALS uses differential GPS [Global Positioning System] signals to
guide an aircraft to the deck of a ship with precision in any kind of
weather and in darkness. With data links between the aircraft, ship and
satellite continuously transmitting faster than a second, the ship’s positions
are recalculated continuously as the aircraft approaches. The aircraft is not
reliant on a ship’s radars and beacons.
Under the concept, a signal is broadcast to the aircraft from the ship
when the aircraft is 200 nautical miles away. The aircraft logs into the
JPALS system at the 60-nautical-mile mark and starts two-way communication with the ship that is accounting for pitch, roll and heave.
At the 10-nautical mile mark, the data transmission speed becomes multiple updates per second, with more data as well. The data link has anti-jam
and anti-spoofing capabilities built into it to make it secure.
The original concept was for JPALS to take the aircraft down to 200
feet in altitude before the pilot resumed control. Under the current program, Raytheon will develop the capability for the aircraft — piloted or
unmanned — to be guided all the way to the deck.
JPALS has been tested in a Navy F/A- 18 Hornet strike fighter, including
taking the aircraft to carrier landings. The F/A- 18 made 38 landings on a
carrier with JPALS. Raytheon has tested JPALS for 40,000 hours over the
development program so far.
The goal is that the pilots are going to have a huge increase in confidence knowing that they’re going to return from a mission regardless of
conditions that they’re coming back into. This is a mature solution
set that we’re putting out there.
JPALS to Guide F- 35, MQ- 25
To Shipboard Landings
The Joint Precision Approach
and Landing System (JPALS) is
designed by Raytheon to guide
aircraft to precision landings on
an aircraft carrier or amphibious
assault ship in any environment.
The program, initially joint, now is
The JPALS was envisioned for
back-fit into existing carrier aircraft, but now is focused on the
F-35B/C Lightning II joint strike
fighter and MQ-25A Stingray
unmanned carrier aerial refueling
system. The JPALS is expected to
equip all production versions of
the aircraft as well as other future
The Navy in September awarded Raytheon $255 million for the
development and production readiness of JPALS. Rockwell Collins
received a $67 million, six-year
contract in October from Raytheon
to complete the development of
JPALS navigation and communication subsystems. JPALS is scheduled to achieve early operational capability in 2018. A decision
for low-rate initial production is
expected in 2019. Initial operational capability is scheduled for
Bob Delorge is vice president
of Transportation and Support
Services at Raytheon’s Intelligence,
Information and Services business
and Mark Maselli is the company’s
JPALS deputy program manager.
An F-35C Lightning II performs an arrested landing on the aircraft carrier
USS George Washington Aug. 20 in the Atlantic Ocean. The Joint Precision
Approach and Landing System is designed to increase the safety and efficiency of carrier flight operations.