As a certified techno-geek, I had high hopes that the F-35 would sport true 21st century electronics, and I was not disappointed.
The primary sensor for the aircraft is the AN/APG-81 AESA radar from Northrup Grumman. In addition, it is equipped with an Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) mounted under the nose.
There are also passive infrared sensors mounted all around the aircraft, which primarily act for missile and aircraft detection. All of the aircraft’s sensors are networked together and provide a 360-degree, continuous detection sphere around the air- craft.
The F-35 is also MADL (Multifunction Advanced Data Link) capable, so it can share its sensor data securely with other aircraft, or with command. The cockpit features a full width panoramic cockpit display, where all instrument data is displayed on a large touch screen.
A helmet-mounted display has replaced the traditional HUD (head up display) in the F-35. All instrument and sensor data is displayed to the pilot on his face shield to allow the pilot to continually track potential targets all around him/her. There are also cameras mounted at strategic points around the aircraft, which feed into the helmet display.
This allows the pilot to virtually see all around the aircraft as if the cockpit was not there. This means the pilot can turn his/her head and see directly beneath the aircraft, or look directly behind without turning the head. Its electronic warfare system is designed to detect enemy aircraft first, and allow the electro-optical system to scan them, and action or evasion taken before it is detected.
Taken from Motorfest Magazine 2012.