The US Air Force and Navy units recently participated in an exercise called Trident Warrior 2013 from July 8 to July 19 at Langley AFB, Virginia.
According to a USAF release, the goal of the exercise was to integrate fourth and fifth-generation fighters using an experimental version of the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS)—which uses the Link 16 waveform. Aircraft participating in the exercise included the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, Boeing F-15C, F-15E and Navy F/A-18s. There also some Langley-based Northrop Grumman T-38s and USN E-2 Hawkeyes involved.
“This data link will give us a holistic view of what we are fighting against so we can focus on tactics without the need for constant updates,” says Lt Col Brian Beales, 1st Fighter Wing plans, programs and evaluations office chief. “Without that whole picture, the chances of loss of life or resources can increase greatly.”
Currently, the while the Raptors can link-up with each other with their intra-flight datalink (IFDL), the F-22 does not have Link-16 transmit capability. The Raptor can, however, receive data from other platforms using the Link-16 waveform. According to the USAF, this new technology will allow F-22 and fourth-generation jets to share data freely.
While the USAF release did not explicitly state this, the service did release pictures of a business jet equipped as a communications node to relay data between the jets. It is very likely that the “new technology” mentioned here is in fact a variation of the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) or something similar.
The USAF release cites Capt Pete Tymitz, a 94th Fighter Squadron flight commander, who says if the new technology is implemented; it will afford pilots the opportunity to share tactical information between all aircraft.