Northrop Grumman and the Royal Air Force (RAF) have completed a communications interoperability trial involving F-35B and Typhoon FGR4 aircraft via an ‘airborne gateway’ developed by the company.
The two-week trial, named ‘Babel Fish III’ and funded by the Ministry of Defence, was conducted in airspace above the Mojave Desert in California.
Northrop Grumman’s airborne gateway connected the F-35B, which communicates using the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), with the Typhoon by translating MADL messages into Link 16 format.
Although the F-35 and the Typhoon can communicate directly via Link 16, previously the aircraft could not share “certain fifth-generation information”, Northrop Grumman stated.
The company deployed a similar airborne gateway capability to support the Australian Defence Force’s ‘Exercise Jericho Dawn’ demonstration of air-land integration.
“Being able to network sensor data between fifth-generation and fourth-generation fast jets and other battlespace assets in a stealthy manner is critically important to enabling the full capability offered by fifth-generation aircraft,” said Andrew Tyler, chief executive of Northrop Grumman Europe.
Bridging the platform interoperability gap was made possible by the inclusion of a Northrop Grumman Freedom 550 software-defined radio in the airborne gateway.