Lockheed Martin has successfully demonstrated how an open systems architecture can enable enhanced interoperability between next generation and legacy fighter aircraft during a series of flight tests at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, US.

Carried out in collaboration with a select industry team, the flight tests concluded a year-long independently funded research and development effort, called Project Missouri, which implemented and tested data links using open systems architecture.

Involving an F-22 Raptor and the F-35 cooperative avionics test bed (CAT-B), the tests were aimed at assessing the capability to share information in real time among varied platforms.

Specifically, the effort demonstrated the ability to transmit and receive Link-16 communications on the F-22, software reuse and reduction of the aircraft system integration timelines, and the employment of the air force unmanned aerial systems command-and-control standard initiative (UCI) messaging standards.

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Program and Technology Integration vice-president Ron Bessire said the team successfully integrated an F-22 with a Rockwell Collins tactical radio for Link 16 transmit and receive capability, and two L-3 Communications devices to support encrypted and secure operations.

"The rapid integration of this equipment enabled secure information sharing between stealth and legacy platforms and improved overall battlespace awareness," Bessire said.

"The team achieved up to a 60% reduction in the development, integration and test timelines."

Led by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the project received support from the US Air Force’s (USAF) Air Combat Command, F-35 Joint Program Office, F-22 Program Office, Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the USAF 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron.

The industry partners included L-3 Communications, Harris, Rockwell Collins, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Curtiss-Wright, Comtech PST, K&L Microwave and Wind River.

The Project Missouri team utilised open systems architecture tools from the air force’s Common Mission Control Center and UCI to complete hardware and software development in less than seven months, while integration and test lasted for less than a month.

The team achieved up to a 60% reduction in the development, integration and test timelines.

Image: Lockheed used F-22 Raptor to demonstrate new communications capability for stealthy fighter aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Christopher Hubenthal.

Defence Technology