Warfare at Speed: U.S. Fighter Jets’ Threat Response Just Got Faster

When a U-2 spy plane can transmit details of the target to the F-22, F-35 and ground control center at once, in near real time, against the backdrop of a heavy battle with many domains, the speed and operational efficiency of the combat attack change dramatically .

Achieving this kind of “war of speedIt was the intention and obvious result of a recent test conducted by the Missile Defense Agency and the Air Force with Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division. Operating at high altitude, the U-2 aircraft simultaneously sends data to five F-35s, one F-22 and a ground control station simultaneously, using a specially configured payload “gateway” built into the U-2. The test, which was reported to give promising results, was part of the ongoing Skunk Works Hydra Project program.

Although the impact of this type of accelerated attack is both decisive and clear in many respects, some of the technical nuances that lead to this realization are a little more nuanced and complex. The payload U-2, called Open the system gateway, is designed with a technical infrastructure sufficient to allow connection between otherwise different communication systems, such as the F-22 Intra-Flight Data Link, the F-35 Multifunction Advanced Datalink, Link-16 and a Danish connection called the Tactical Targeting Network Terminal.

“Hydra project efforts also marked the first time that data from the F-35 sensor was delivered to a ground-based operating system via a tactical network guidance terminal (TTNT) using an airlock,” according to Skunk Works. statement on the test. The demonstration connects the Joint Missile Control Center with the Shadow Operations Center at Nellis Air Force Base to see sensor data for “high-performance operational command and control,” Lockheed-Skunk Works said in an essay.

One of the means of communication made possible by this type of gateway for technical infrastructure is a secure two-way connection between the F-35 and the F-22, which maintains a stealth mode. This means it is less hacked and emits a much less noticeable electronic signature. Northrop Grumman is now testing what the developers called a “radio translator” designed to connect the F-22 datalink Interflight Datalink to the F-35 Multi-Function Advanced Datalink data connection.

“We are working on a demonstrator who uses a radio as an interpreter to convert stolen data sent from the F-35 to the F-22. It involves the use of software-defined radio hardware and software and antennas, “said Colin Fan, director of strategic and technical communications for Northrop Grumman. The National interest in one interview last year for technology.

Stealth mode is protected by an integrated software-defined Northrop Grumman radio device called Freedom 550. Software-programmable radio works by sending IP data packets through waveforms to transmit warfare-related information. Fan explained that there could be a multifunctional box that performs up to twenty-five different functions. Stealth mode is supported, Fan explained, using fewer modules to connect the two data connections together via a converter. Fewer modules help keep hidden communications thanks to reducing emissions of a non-directional antenna, which is more detectable. The wider the signal and the higher the issue, the larger the electronic signature, something that of course can be a risk to be detected.

Chris Osborne is the National Interest Defense Editor. Osborne previously served at the Pentagon as a highly qualified expert in the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army – Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. Osborne has also worked as a leading and terrestrial military specialist on national television networks. He is a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel and The History Channel. He also has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters