Jon Lake

While Symetrics is loathe to describe the latest incarnation of its highly successful IDM (Improved Data Modem) as a îpoor man¹s Joint Tactical Information Distribution Systems (JTIDS), there can be no doubt that it can fulfil that function. The system cannot handle the volume of data required for the full Recognised Air Picture (RAP), but can take a Link 16 message, convert it to Variable Message Format and pipe _it to the IDM, creating a simplified version of the JTIDS RAP.


A proven COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) modem, able to interconnect separate radios _to provide a multi-path communications system, IDM works by transmitting suitably formatted digital data over standard îvoice¹ radios. Under Project Sure Strike, IDM was developed as a datalink to allow Lockheed Martin F-16 HARM îshooters¹ to co-operate with suitably equipped sensor platforms, sending target location details, navigational waypoints and 'within firing envelope¹ cues directly to the launch aircraft. In the Close Air Support role, IDM allowed GPS target co-ordinates or a standard 'nine line brief¹ to be sent from an FAC directly into the F-16¹s fire control computer, LANTIRN pod, or the Head Up Display (HUD), providing the pilot with a visual cue of target location. IDM has since been integrated on a variety of platforms, including the Lockheed-Martin F-16, the Boeing AH-64D and WAH-64D Apache. In its basic form, IDM represents an ideal system for sharing digital data between multinational elements in a force without regard to nationality, language, platform or voice legibility, translating data into formats usable by the receiver. The basic IDM is fully integrated with the UK Army Air Corps WAH-64D Apache, and has been evaluated and tested on DERA¹s long-serving Nightcat Jaguar T2. The aircraft has been flown by a number of senior officers, and as a result, funding has been made available to allow IDM to be installed in a frontline Jaguar of the Boscombe Down-based Strike Attack Operational Evaluation Unit (SAOEU). Under Project 'Gold Strike¹, the USAF used IDM as part of a rapid targeting system, integrating a new Video Imagery Module into the modem box. This allowed the IDM to transmit, store and receive 20 frames of compressed imagery, and although transmission times were lengthy (up to 45sec) the system reduced target acquisition times, provided rapid over-the-target bomb damage assessment, and reduced the risk of collateral damage or fratricide. In its latest form, one of the slots in the IDM îtoaster¹ is used to host a PRISM (Photo Reconnaissance Intelligence Strike Module) card. This uses a box-within-a-box approach, taking power and electrical îplumbing¹ from the IDM to link it to the aircraft¹s video, communications and command buses.


The company hopes that the DERA and SAOEU Jaguars may soon be equipped with PRISM IDM, which would allow a Jaguar to receive LANTIRN imagery from a similarly-equipped F-16, and to transmit TIALD imagery to the F-16. The PRISM IDM offers some potential for limited real-time reconnaissance if used with the new W Vinten EO GP(1) reconnaissance pod. Provision of a solid state recorder for the pod would dramatically increase this potential.

Near-real time video images will be transmitted from a DERA Jaguar parked on the far side of the airfield to the Symetrics stand in Hall 2-A15.

Source: Flight Daily News