Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force have demonstrated the capability to connect an F-35 fighter jet and a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft to enable multi-domain operations.

The test also involved a multi-domain ground station and allowed the company and the USAF to showcase the ability to distribute sensitive information across multiple platforms.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works conducted the test in coordination with the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

The demonstration was codenamed Project Riot and positioned the F-35 fighter as a key element in the joint force. It also showcased the ability of U-2 to rapidly field capabilities for the future.

During the test, an F-35 aircraft detected a long-range missile launch and passed on the information through the U-2 to a ground station.

The information assisted the air defence commander on the ground to take a quick call to counter the missile threat.

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The connectivity will provide the US military with a significant capability to act on the data and target the threats in a matter of seconds.

Lockheed Martin Skunk WorksISR & UASvice-president John Clark said: “This demonstration continues our commitment to provide complete battlespace awareness and seamless interoperability to enable multi-domain operations.

“With its long-range standoff sensors, on-board processing and ability to operate in and around contested environments, the U-2 continues to play a critical role in demonstrating new capabilities today, while transforming operations for tomorrow’s battlespace.”

The team’s achievements include a successful demonstration of the ability to use F-35 sensor data for defence against missile threats, and using the upgraded U-2 to facilitate beyond line of sight communications between the F-35 aircraft and a ground-based multi-domain station.

The team also established two new data paths to ensure secure transmission of the sensor data to the troop.

Lockheed Martin F-35 programme vice-president and general manager Greg Ulmer said: “The F-35, with its advanced sensors and connectivity, is able to gather and seamlessly share critical information enabling the joint force to be safer and more effective.

“No other fighter jet in the world has this capability, and this test was a critical step on the path to unlocking its full potential for multi-domain operations.”

In June, the F-35 transmitted data to the US Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System during a test.