Nov. 11 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force announced plans to test a secure data link between its F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter planes without identifying the planes' locations.
The first test, in December, is an element in the U.S. military's goal of a comprehensive Multi-Domain Command and Control network encompassing the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace domains.
The system features new methods of data sharing between air and ground forces, a common operational view that can track updated positions, and most prominently, a data connection to allow F-22s and F-35s to share data without exposing their positions.
The F-35 was designed to take in large amounts of data regarding battlefield positions and situations. The F-22, in service since 2005, with the last plane delivered in 2012, has a more limited mission and capability -- and the F-22's Intra-Flight Data Link and the F-35's Multifunction Advanced Data Link are currently incompatible.
"We've got a variety of platforms we would like to be able to share information in ways they haven't done before," Preston Dunlap, Air Force's first chief architect, said last week.
The fighter planes, and other platforms, have different communications protocols and radio frequencies, and were not designed with a digital gateway to integrate their communications capabilities.
The Air Force tests will be conducted every four months and development progresses on the capability.
"We have an ambitious goal where, for the first time, we want to be able to share data as we would like to in a relevant type of environment that you would want to operate in, say a highly contested type of environment," Dunlap added. "The main point is that we want both of them [the F-22 and the F-35] to be able to share communication over a link that allows them to do so in a way that protects their survivability."
Lockheed Martin developed a linking system in 2013 but it did not become a standard for use.