Subcommittee Demands USAF Fix F-35 / F-22 Comms Problems
(Source: Compiled by; posted June 04, 2019)
PARIS --- Among the programs mentioned in the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces’ mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020, special attention is given to the continuing inability of the F-22 and F-35 aircraft to exchange data.

This inability to share data extends to the US Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), which relies on data exchange to function.

This is the extract from the mark-up regarding the incompatible data-links fitted to the F-22 and F-35 combat aircraft.

Tactical Data Links

The committee remains concerned with the lack of a Department of Defense-wide, comprehensive effort to achieve a resilient and survivable network for 5th and 4th generation systems data sharing in a highly contested operational environment.

Section 234 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (Public Law 115–91) directed the then-Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to coordinate with the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Air Force to develop a competitive acquisition plan for low probability of detection/low probability of intercept (LPD/LPI) datalink network capability.

The committee notes, however, that the Department's plan was not sufficient or comprehensive.

The National Defense Strategy's shift to peer and near-peer threats requires joint force capabilities for operations in highly contested environments.

The F-22 and the F-35 aircraft possess LPD/LPI datalinks, but their two systems, the Intra-Flight Data Link and the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), cannot share information between aircraft.

The Department identified F-35’s MADL as the preferred airborne datalink to meet the requirement, but the associated form, fit, and function changes required rendered this unaffordable and the effort was cancelled.

Additionally, the Air Force's concept for an Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) for battle management and command and control (BMC2) also depends upon LPD/LPI datalinks to exchange intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and BMC2 information between current and future sensor network nodes.

The committee believes LPD/LPI networked communications must be a priority, and therefore, directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, in coordination with the Secretaries of the Air Force and Navy, to provide a report to the congressional defense committees by December 1, 2019, on plans to ensure LPD/LPI communications among and between 5th and 4th generation airborne platforms as well as other network nodes for command, control, communications, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The report shall include:
(1) all current and planned LPD/LPI data link developments, with requirements, technology specifications and readiness levels, and applicability to specific platforms and network-enabled weapon systems;
(2) a plan and schedule for flight testing the data links in operationally relevant environments; and,
(3) estimated cost and schedule to implement each solution. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full mark-up (60 PDF pages) on the House website.


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