WASHINGTON, DC --- Two of the US Air Force’s premier fifth-generation fighters, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II and F-22A Raptor, still can’t transmit data back and forth but the service’s plan to fix the communication gap is undetermined.
Today, the F-22’s Link 16 network can only receive data from the F-35. The JSF can both transmit and receive data with other Link 16 legacy aircraft including F-16, F-15 and other NATO aircraft, Brig Gen Scott Pleus, director of the F-35 Integration office tells FlightGlobal.
The F-35 would not receive F-22 data until a fourth to fifth generation gateway is deployed, but the timeline on that gateway is undecided, the service tells FlightGlobal. The USAF has plans for fourth to fifth-generation communications, which would cover the F-22’s Link 16 radio, but they’re not yet programmes of record.
The real crux of the matter is that F-22 — in addition to Link 16 — operates with uses an intra-flight data link (IFDL) to communication within the Raptor fleet, while the F-35 uses both legacy Link 16 and the Multi-Function Advanced Datalink (MADL), Pleus said in a 24 March interview with FlightGlobal.
Both IFDL and MADL have a low-probability of intercept and low-probability of detection capability that fends off jamming and eavesdropping. But the two systems can’t talk to each other in the same way the F-15C and F-22 can communicate using the Talon HATE pod, Pleus says.
“We don’t have anything like that and there’s currently nothing on the books for any testing,” he says. (end of excerpt)
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