Northrop demonstrates interoperability between UK RAF's F-35B and Typhoon


Northrop Grumman has demonstrated airborne communications interoperability between the UK Royal Air Force's (RAF) F-35B Lightning II and Typhoon FGR4 aircraft.

The company provided an airborne gateway for the two-week long Babel Fish III trial that was conducted in airspace above the upper Mojave Desert, California.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD)-funded trial forms a part of the RAF’s Exercise High Rider.

"Being able to network sensor data between fifth-generation and fourth-generation fast-jets and other battlespace assets in a stealthy manner is critically important."

Northrop Grumman Europe CEO Andrew Tyler said: “Being able to network sensor data between fifth-generation and fourth-generation fast-jets and other battlespace assets in a stealthy manner is critically important to enabling the full capability offered by fifth-generation aircraft.

“We are pleased to have played our part in this successful trial, the output of which will help the MoD to broaden its understanding of the effect that can be generated by its fifth-generation combat-air fleet.”

Northrop's airborne gateway translated multifunction advanced data link (MADL) messages to Link 16 format to establish a connection between F-35B and Typhoon.

The Link 16 is the US and Nato military tactical data link that is used by few military aircraft, ships and ground forces to communicate and exchange tactical data, Northrop stated.

The Babel Fish III trial is the first time non-US fifth and fourth-generation aircraft have shared MADL delivered data.

The airborne gateway features a Freedom 550 software-defined radio, which is derived from the integrated communications, navigation and identification avionics suite manufactured by Northrop for the F-35.

It is capable of translating and transferring information from various sources across diverse platforms and domains to enhance interoperability, situational awareness, communications and coordination for warfighters in the air, on the ground and at sea, Northrop stated.