Sweden’s decades of datalink experience makes integration of coalition Link 16 system a smooth task.
Link 16 (also known as TADIL-J in the US) has been designed to optimize the use of the MIDS/JTIDS architecture. MIDS is a major U.S.-led international programme in which Link 16 compatible data communications terminals are being developed. Link 16 is defined as the designation for Joint Tactical Information Data System (JTIDS) waveform and protocol compatible radios that transmit and receive data messages in the TADIL-J message catalog.
Link 16 has been developed to meet the information exchange requirements of all tactical units, supporting the exchange of surveillance data, EW data, mission tasking, weapons assignments and control data. Link 16 is the NATO-standard tactical datalink that is being adopted by more and more users, on more and more platforms, to support coalition operations.
In addition to the Swedish data link, Link 16 is now an option in Gripens onboard datalink capabilities. This further enhances Gripen’s interoperability and gives users an even wider choice of networked systems to meet their national and international needs.
Gripen has always been a networked aircraft. Long before today’s concepts of netcentricity entered the military vocabulary, the Gripen was designed to be a datalinked, networked fighting system. This is not some lucky coincidence. By the late 1950s Sweden’s military thinkers and aircraft builders had recognized the game-changing effect that a linked flow of secure electronic combat data could have on tactics and operations.
It is well known now – but was once a highly-classified national secret – that Saab’s J 35 Draken was fielded with one of the world’s first operational datalink systems. Since then, every generation of Saab combat aircraft from Draken to Viggen to Gripen has fielded more and more powerful datalink capabilities.
The Gripen team is drawing on this depth of experience to ensure that Link 16 integration is smooth and seamless. It is crucial that information and symbology is presented in a clear and coherent way, to allow the pilot to use the datalink to full advantage. Saab already has some of the world’s best specialists in this area.
Currently running in Gripen’s avionics simulator, full Link 16 certification is planned for 2008. Implementation of the new datalink will take advantage of the SEK1 billion (USD139 million) Version 19 systems upgrade that was announced in 2006.