The US Navy has announced it has successfully conducted a number of manned-unmanned teaming test with a new Block III F/A-18F Super Hornet.
A 15 July NAVAIR release says the Super Hornet – which was fitted with the new Distributed Targeting Processor – Networked (DTP-N) developed for the Block IIi upgrade – demonstrated its ability to control three unmanned air vehicles during test flights from NAS Patuxent River in Maryland.
The Super Hornet crew entered combat mission-representative manoeuvring commands into a third-party tablet which was connected to the aircraft’s DTP-N which transmitted these to the unmanned systems via datalink.
“The MUM-T concept explores interoperability between manned aircraft and unmanned autonomous systems to conduct missions,” program manager for the US Navy’s Hornet PMA-265 program office, Capt Jason Denney said in a release. “Such collaborative endeavours are imperative for resource and requirements planning to ensure the warfighter is equipped with best-in-class capabilities.
“MUM-T has the potential to transform tomorrow’s fleet into a more lethal, better-connected force,” Capt Denney added. “MUM-T will help us maintain the technological advantage and competitive edge against our adversaries.”
PMA-265 science and technology, and experimentation/demo lead, Dr Michael Yu added, “The Navy conducts exercises of this nature with industry partners to evaluate current and future capabilities. The comprehensive analysis of data captured during these events further informs development and refinement of technologies that could potentially be incorporated into Navy platforms.”
The incorporation of the Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) and DTP-N is a key element of the Block III upgrade. It reportedly provides an open-architecture high-performance core data and signal processing capability allowing the aircraft to integrate with F-35, F-22, and other current and future sensors and shooters including unmanned systems.
In June 2021 the US Navy ordered 116 distributed targeting processor-networked (DTP-N) kits, about one-third of which were allocated to an unnamed foreign military sales (FMS) customer, possibly Australia.