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C4iSR: Air

US Air Force plans aircraft communications survivability test in December

08 November 2019
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Key Points

  • The USAF is planning a communications test between a F-22 and F-35, both of which use different languages and frequencies to exchange data
  • The test is part of a USAF effort to develop capability in four-month increments

The US Air Force (USAF) is planning for a communications test between a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and a F-22 Raptor multirole fighter in December with a goal of having the platforms communicate while maintaining their survivability.

Preston Dunlap, USAF chief architect, office of the assistant secretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics (AT&L), said on 7 November that the service wants platforms to be able to share data in highly contested environments while remaining difficult to detect. A key issue, Dunlap said, is that the F-35 and F-22 do not share a common data language nor frequency, meaning the service must overcome a physics and language barrier for this test.

The US Air Force wants platforms such as F-22 (pictured) and the F-35 to communicate without losing their survivability in contested environments. (Lockheed Martin)The US Air Force wants platforms such as F-22 (pictured) and the F-35 to communicate without losing their survivability in contested environments. (Lockheed Martin)

This December test will start a USAF effort to enhance capability in four-month cycles. Brigadier General David Kumashiro, USAF deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration, and requirements, and director of joint force integration, said the service does not expect this December test to be flawless but instead wants to begin a cultural shift on moving faster as it begins to develop its Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) kill web focused on connectivity instead of platforms.

Brig Gen Kumashiro said as the USAF moves faster, it must think about accepting these new technologies as they come online and think differently about approaching warfare.

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