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Link 16 terminal qualified for French AWACS aircraft

French Boeing E-3F Sentry AWACS to get latest military tactical datalink. (Boeing)

The Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminal Block Upgrade 2 (MIDS-LVT BU2) has been qualified for use on all four of the French Air and Space Force Boeing E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

Announced by the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on 22 September, the new terminal will enable the operation of the latest-generation Link 16 military tactical data network on its aircraft in September−November 2022.

In 2020 Thales and Air France Industries were selected to integrate the new MIDS-LVT BU2 terminal on the French E-3F AWACS, the announcement said.

The DGA conducted two years of tests to qualify the terminal, in conjunction with the French Air and Space Force and the two industrial partners. Specifically, the DGA Information Control Centre of Expertise and Testing handled security with the information systems, while the DGA Project Engineering Centre examined the authorisation files for flight, temporary employment authorisation, and qualification of the integration of MIDS-LVT BU2 on the AWACS. Several flights were conducted by the DGA Flight Test Centre, which tested the integration and operation of the terminal, the DGA said.

Link 16 is a military standardised communications system that enables the transmission and exchange of real-time tactical data to NATO and coalition forces. MIDS-LVT BU2 is an advanced terminal that provides the latest Link 16 features, including enhanced throughput, cryptographic upgrades, and frequency remapping.

In November 2013 DLS, EuroMIDS – a European industry co-operation programme – and Viasat were awarded a 39-month contract to upgrade MIDS-LVT to the ‘Block Upgrade 2'.

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