Introducing the USAF’s airborne networking future

An extraordinary briefing slide from Northrop Grumman’s press conference on the B-2 at AFA last week has perhaps inadvertently tipped me off to the US Air Force’s new airborne networking

strategy. [Click on the picture below to see a larger image.]


AdvancedTacticalDataLink.JPG

This slide about the B-2′s networking roadmap offers the first detailed glimpse I’ve seen of the USAF’s latest networking strategy for all airborne platforms, and reveals some very significant changes in the architecture.

Most importantly, gone is the Rockwell Collins Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT) from the picture. Instead, its chief competitor — the Harris Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) — is listed. The MADL is the baseline data link for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. TTNT’s exclusion from the list may indicate that MADL will also be added to the F-22.

Another very interesting new term introduced is the “Advanced Tactical Data Link” (ATDL). This would appear to introduce a new networking technology that has the power to connect all of the disparate data links already in operation. I’m wondering if this is a new term for the “Objective Gateway” program, or perhaps some new technology?



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3 Responses to Introducing the USAF’s airborne networking future

  1. The Woracle 25 September, 2008 at 2:13 am #

    ATDL is the name given to the advanced datalink planned for the F-22, to connect it to other platforms. MADL is a candidate for ATDL, as in TTNT, with Lockheed hoping for a decision this year so it can begin development of the revelant Increment upgrade.

    Northrop’s MADL is a unique stealth datalink radio which requires substantial physical changes to the F-22. Rockwell Collins’ TTNT is a waveform for a software-defined radio, but is not as robust. TTNT is already planned for the MIDS-JTRS terminal, but is under threat from BAE’s FAST waveform, which is a cheap-and-cheerful way of sending IP-based data via Link 16.

  2. Stephen Trimble 25 September, 2008 at 11:26 am #

    Very interesting. I’ve heard TTNT/F-22 is under threat, but not from FAST. I was told the USAF will be deciding later this year to pick an advanced networking waveform for the F-22, and the candidates would be TTNT, MADL and maybe even a satellite link, but MADL had the inside track. I wasn’t aware that MADL would require substantial physical changes on the F-22. FAST is really just a candidate for upgrading existing Link 16 boxes that won’t be upgrades to MIDS-JTRS.

    ATDL is presented in this chart as something very different than just a data link for the F-22. It’s presented as the connecting element between MADL, Link 16, FAST and every other major waveform in the network. That could be significant, or simply a massive typo by Northrop’s B-2 guys who obviously got some extra time to play around in CWIN.

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