The UK and coalition partners’ F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft have participated in interoperability trials with other military platforms across land, sea and air.

The trials are part of a series of simulation exercises that link simulation facilities from multiple locations across the UK as a way of creating a common synthetic environment to evaluate F-35 interoperability with other UK platforms.

Furthermore, the tests aimed to progressively evaluate the interoperability of the F-35 with command and control (C2) platforms, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, in addition to combat assets. This will help to identify issues, as well as fix and re-test the aircraft ahead of initial operating capability (IOC).

BAE Systems F-35 interoperability trials programme manager Tony Hall said: “We are working towards establishing an IOC interoperability baseline for the UK and F-35 partner nations, helping them to develop a Coalition Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and common tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP).”

"We are working towards establishing an IOC interoperability baseline for the UK and F-35 partner nations."

In a simulated mission scenario, pilots from the UK Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Italy, and the Netherlands operated the F-35s from Lockheed Martin-supplied desktop simulators at BAE Systems’ site in Samlesbury, UK.

As part of the trials, the F-35 pilots conducted digitally aided close air support (DACAS) missions using the variable message format (VMF) data link.

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The trials also saw collaboration between a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC), a simulated Air Support Operations Centre (ASOC), and two Royal Navy Sea King aircrew.

Later this year, the interoperability between the F-35 and Italian naval and airborne platforms will be evaluated and will see the linking of simulation facilities from multiple UK and Italian locations.

Image: An F-35 Lightning II during trials. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.