F-35 JSF

Northrop Grumman-built multifunction advanced data link (MADL) waveform has successfully demonstrated its ability to advance communication among the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft during flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US.

During testing, the MADL joined the communications, navigation and identification (CNI) Link-16 and variable message format network present on an F-35 aircraft, and the data passed was correlated with information from other F-35 sensors by a fusion system to form a simplified situational awareness picture on the cockpit displays.

The testing forms an important element of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Block 2 software release that is designed to offer an advanced mission systems capability at Edwards AFB.

Northrop Grumman Information Systems Defense Systems division vice president and general manager Mike Twyman said the MADL performed reliably and displayed an excellent range at multiples of required specifications, while demonstrating ability to connect fifth-generation fighters during flight tests.

"This success is a significant achievement for the F-35 program and enabling joint aerial concept of operations," Twyman added.

A critical capability of the F-35 CNI avionics, the MADL is a high-data-rate, directional communications link designed to enable coordinated tactics and engagement to help bring significant operational advantages to fifth-generation aircraft operating in high-threat environments.

The CNI system provides F-35 pilots with an equivalent capability of over 27 avionics subsystems, including identification friend or foe (IFF), automatic acquisition of fly-to points, and various voice and data communications, while lowering size, weight and power demands on the aircraft.

Northrop also manufactures F-35’s centre fuselage, radar and electro-optical subsystem, mission systems and mission planning software, pilot and maintenance training system courseware, apart from managing the F-35 industry team’s use, support and maintenance of low-observable technologies.

Currently under production by Lockheed, the F-35 JSF is designed to conduct ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defence missions with stealth capability.

Image: USAF’s first of two F-35A JSF fighters arrives for operational testing at Edwards Air Force Base in California, US. Photo: US Air Force photo by Laura Mowry.

Defence Technology