skip to main content

SDA, FAA developing Link 16 test plan for US airspace

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, on 14 February, sending six satellites to orbit – two for the Missile Defense Agency and four for the Space Development Agency. (US Space Force )

The Pentagon's Space Development Agency (SDA) anticipates having a testing strategy in place by the end of 2024 to evaluate Link 16 connectivity across US airspace for satellite communications (satcom) in the agency's Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA).

Officials from SDA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are in the midst of formulating the strategy, which would grant the agency authorisation to transmit Link 16 radio frequency (RF) signals from space to ground terminals in the United States, SDA Director Derek Tournear said.

One point of debate is the FAA's concerns that Link 16 transmissions emitted during testing may interfere with RF navigation signals used by commercial aircraft, Tournear said during a 6 March briefing.

“That makes sense, and we're working with [the] FAA to get a plan in place” to address these concerns, Tournear said, noting the SDA plans to have a strategy in place for Link 16 testing across the national airspace by the end of 2024. Once the test strategy is in place, agency officials will begin Link 16 testing on the Tranche 2 variant of the Transport Layer satellites of the PWSA.

Transport Layer satellites will provide multiband global communications access and persistent encrypted connectivity from low Earth orbit (LEO) to the US armed forces. The Transport Layer is one of several capability sections – or layers – within the PWSA, each supported by constellations of LEO satellites.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...