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F/A-22 Raptor tests intraflight datalink

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June 4, 2004

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Lockheed Martin's F/A-22 Raptor fighter flight-test program has successfully demonstrated an Intraflight Datalink (IFDL) between two planes in the air. The link enhances situational awareness by creating an encrypted voice and data communications channel between the pilots. Seen as a key component of the Raptor's advanced avionics suite as the project moves toward its "Operational Test & Evaluation" phase.

The basic functionality of the IFDL was tested during an almost four-hour flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California by two F/A-22s.

"The IFDL is essentially an encrypted radio and wireless communications modem that allows Raptor pilots to covertly talk to and share information with each other without fear of being overheard by potential enemies," said Bret Luedke, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.'s chief F/A-22 test pilot, one of two pilots involved in this IFDL test flight. "The IFDL helps preserve the aircraft's stealthiness without requiring pilots to maintain radio silence or to communicate via visual signals; IFDL is truly a step forward in aircraft interoperability." Part of the Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) suite provided by the Radio Systems division of Northrop Grumman Space Technology , the IFDL allows formations of Raptor pilots to share information provided by each other's on-board and off-board sensors such as target tracking information. This will help prevent weapons from being unnecessarily launched or dropped on targets already being engaged by another Raptor.

More 20 years in development, the Raptor is scheduled to become operational in 2005 and has unprecedented fighter and attack capabilities. Its balanced design of stealth, supercruise speed - meaning that supersonic speeds can be reached without the need for afterburners - extreme agility, advanced integrated avionics such as fly-by wire and the pilot-friendly cockpit, make the F-22 a formidable addition to the US military arsenal.

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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