AN/AAQ-37 Distributed Aperture System (DAS) for the F-35

AN/AAQ-37 F-35 Distributed Aperture System


The only 360 degree, spherical situational awareness system

f-35 das video playlistNorthrop Grumman has developed the only 360 degree, spherical situational awareness system in the electro-optical distributed aperture system (DAS). The DAS surrounds the aircraft with a protective sphere of situational awareness. It warns the pilot of incoming aircraft and missile threats as well as providing day/night vision, fire control capability and precision tracking of wingmen/friendly aircraft for tactical maneuvering.

Designated the AN/AAQ-37 and comprising six electro-optical sensors, the full EO DAS will enhance the F-35's survivability and operational effectiveness by warning the pilot of incoming aircraft and missile threats, providing day/night vision and supporting the navigation function of the F-35 Lightning II's forward-looking infrared sensor.

The DAS provides:

  • Missile detection and tracking
  • Launch point detection
  • Situational awareness IRST & cueing
  • Weapons support
  • Day/night navigation

In addition to developing the EO DAS, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is supplying the F-35's AN/APG-81 advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) fire-control radar. The AESA radar is designed to enable the pilot to effectively engage air and ground targets at long range, while also providing outstanding situational awareness. 

F-35 DAS and APG-81 radar demonstrate ability to detect, track, target ballistic missiles

Northrop Grumman Corporation recently demonstrated the ballistic missile detection, tracking and targeting capabilities of the company's AN/AAQ-37 distributed aperture system (DAS) and AN/APG-81 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, both of which are featured on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft. Northrop Grumman's DAS and APG-81 autonomously detected, tracked and targeted multiple, simultaneous ballistic rockets. The DAS autonomously detected all five rockets, launched in rapid succession, and tracked them from initial launch well past the second stage burnout. Press release | Watch the video.

F-35 DAS demonstrates hostile fire detection capability

While being flown on Northrop Grumman's BAC 1-11 test aircraft, the DAS detected and located tank fire from an operationally significant distance. In addition to artillery, the system is able to simultaneously detect and pinpoint the location of rockets and anti-aircraft artillery fired in a wide area. Although hostile fire detection is not an F-35 requirement for the DAS, the system design makes it ideal for this mission. This inherent capability enables DAS to harvest, process and deliver key battlespace information to ground forces and other aircraft autonomously, without the need for cueing or increasing pilot workload. Press releaseWatch the video.

Additional Information

Contact us to learn more about the Distributed Aperture System.


About Northrop Grumman and the F-35 Lightning II

As a principal member of the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 industry team, Northrop Grumman performs a significant share of the work required to develop and produce the aircraft. In addition to producing the DAS and software modes, Northrop Grumman designed and produces the aircraft's AN/APG-81 AESA radar and communications subsystems; produces the center fuselage; develops mission systems and mission-planning software; leads the team's development of pilot and maintenance training system courseware; and manages the team's use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.