During a two-week trial, an F-35B was able to transfer MADL data to a Eurofighter Typhoon using a Link 16 format. Pictured: A U.S. Air Force F-35 performs flight maneuvers over Luke Air Force Base. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Devante Williams
Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Northrop Grumman and the British Royal Air Force recently completed a communications interoperability demonstration using F-35 and Eurofighter Typhoon jets.
During the two-week trial, called Babel Fish III, a Lockheed Martin F-35B communicated with a Typhoon fighter by translating its Multifunction Advanced Data Link messages into a Link 16 format. It was the first time a non-U.S. 5th- and 4th-generation aircraft shared MADL-delivered data.
Company officials say communications interoperability is essential for 5th-generation combat effectiveness.
"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," Northrop Grumman Europe chief Andrew Tyler said in a press release.
According to Northrop Grumman, the successful test was made possible by the inclusion of its Freedom 550 technology into the F-35's Airborne Gateway. The device is designed to translate information from various sources to enhance situational awareness and interoperability.
"This marks another great step forward in interoperability between our fourth- and fifth- generation aircraft, putting the RAF at the forefront of this work," U.K. F-35 program official Linc Taylor added. "We plan to continue to understand and develop where the most capability and interoperability benefit lies through a series of future trials along similar lines."
The demonstration concluded as Britain moves closer to approving initial operating capability for the Lockheed Martin F-35, which is expected to take place in late 2018.