The US military carried out a ground-breaking test that has enhanced the reputation of its F-35 Strike Fighter — also known as the “flying computer.”
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works©, the Missile Defense Agency and the US Air Force successfully connected an F-35, U-2 and a ground station in a test demonstrating a secure distribution of data across multiple platforms, facilitating true multi-domain operation, Defense Update reported.
Called Project Riot, an F-35 detected a missile launch at long range, using standard onboard sensors. It then shared that information through the U-2 gateway, providing an early warning to an air defense center on the ground, enabling the commander to quickly make the decision to target the threat.
This level of connectivity reduces the data-to-decision timeline from minutes to seconds, a necessary precondition in fighting near-peer adversaries and advanced threats, the report said.
The project is run under a partnership with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., and the Missile Defense Agency.
“With its long-range standoff sensors, on-board processing and ability to operate in and around contested environments, the U-2 continues to play a critical role in demonstrating new capabilities today, while transforming operations for tomorrow’s battlespace,” said John Clark, vice president of ISR & UAS at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works©.
Through the demonstration, the team leveraged the modernized U-2’s payload capacity, modular design and open architecture to provide beyond-line-of-sight communications between the F-35 and a multi-domain ground station, the report said.
The link established two new data paths to securely transmit 5th generation sensor data from the stealth fighter to the warfighter on the ground. The information dissemination from the F-35 used the Air Force’s Universal Command and Control Interface and Open Mission Systems (OMS) standards.
Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin said it has developed an advanced version of the Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) used in the F-35, Defense Update reported.
The Advanced EOTS offers higher resolution and improved multi-spectral sensing.
It includes a larger aperture and provides pilots with options such as high-resolution Mid-Wave IR, Short-Wave IR and Near IR. Advanced EOTS is also effortless to integrate into the F-35 with the “plug and play” feature.
EOTS combines forward-looking infrared and infrared search and track functions to support the pilot both in air-to-air and air-to-ground, in day or night conditions. It allows aircrews to identify areas of interest, perform recon and precisely deliver laser and GPS-guided weapons.
According to the company, Advanced EOTS is expected to save more than US$1 billion for users over the system’s life span.
As an added benefit, EOTS uses a low-drag, low weight package integrated into the F-35’s fuselage with a durable sapphire window. The system is linked to the aircraft’s central computer through a high-speed fiber-optic interface.