16 Feb 2017

Successful F-35 interoperability trial

Interoperability has been the key objective in a recent trial involving the F-35B Lightning II and Typhoon FGR4 aircraft.

Funded by the MOD, the two-week trial has been carried out in airspace above the upper Mojave Desert, California, as part of the RAF’s Exercise High Rider.

Coordinated by Northrup Grumman and the RAF, Exercise Babel Fish III successfully tested an Airborne Gateway that has been developed by leading global security company. The trial connected the fifth-generation F-35B and the fourth-generation Typhoon, by translating MADL messages from the F-35 to Link 16 format used by the Typhoon.

Link 16 is the US and NATO military tactical data link used by some military aircraft, ships and ground forces to communicate and exchange tactical data.

This is the first time non-US fifth- and fourth-generation aircraft have shared MADL delivered data and is an important stage in the UK adopting use of its F-35 Lightning II Force in late 2018.

“Being able to network sensor data between fifth-generation and fourth-generation fast-jets and other battlespace assets in a stealthy manner is critically important to enabling the full capability offered by fifth-generation aircraft,” said Andrew Tyler, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Europe.

“We are pleased to have played our part in this successful trial, the output of which will help the MOD to broaden its understanding of the effect that can be generated by its fifth-generation combat-air fleet.” 

Air Commodore Linc Taylor, Senior Responsible Owner, for the UK’s F-35 Programme, said: “I have been enormously impressed both by the collegiate effort to make the Babel Fish III trial happen so successfully, and the specific outcomes of the trial.

“This marks another great step forward in interoperability between our fourth- and fifth- generation aircraft, putting the RAF at the forefront of this work. We plan to continue to understand and develop where the most capability and interoperability benefit lies through a series of future trials along similar lines.”    


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