December 04, 2014

Talk Stealthy to Me

By Kelley Sayler

As the Air Force Times recently reported, the F-22 and F-35A conducted their first integrated training mission earlier this month. Several observers declared this mission, which included offensive counter air, defensive counter air and interdiction operations, to be a success. But if the planes are to actually operate as a cohesive strike package in the complex A2/AD environments of the future, the services will first need to address a glaring gap in interoperability: data links.

Currently, the F-22 and F-35 are equipped with two different low probability-of-intercept/low probability-of-detection (LPI/LPD) systems for exchanging data while in stealth mode: the F-22 uses the older and more limited Intra Flight Data Link (IFDL); the F-35 operates with the newer Multifunction Advanced Data Link. Quite astoundingly, these two LPI/LPD systems cannot communicate with each other, meaning that if the F-35 and F-22 need to share information with each other, they must do so using the non-stealthy Link 16 system used by 4th-generation legacy aircraft. (And even then, the F-22 is limited to receiving data; it cannot transmit it.)

Read the full article at War on the Rocks