July 1 (UPI) -- An advance in aircraft simulators, allowing F-35 pilots to link with pilots of other aircraft, was announced on Wednesday by Lockheed Martin.
For the first time, Lockheed, the F-35 Joint Program Office and the U.S. Air Force successfully connected F-35, F-22, F-16 and E3 airborne warning planes in a simulated environment, Lockheed said in a statement.
Additional platforms, like the F-15, can also connect to the shared virtual environment.
The success came during a Distributed Mission Training final acceptance test at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the company said.
The uplink allows, for example, an F-35 pilot to practice simulated flying with an F-16 pilot at another base, anywhere in the world. Previously, the closest a Nellis pilot could come to simulated formations was a four-aircraft exercise with pilots in the same room.
"This base capability lays the foundation for pilots to truly train like they fight by enabling advanced tactics training through multi-domain operations in a simulated environment," said Chauncey McIntosh, Lockheed Martin's F-35 training and logistics vice president.
McIntosh told Popular Science that the enlarged web of connections a "complex translator that allows for us to take the way the F-35 communicates and to put it out on a distributed network that can then flow to the other platforms."
The new, integrated simulation system, requiring unification of systems of planes made by different manufacturers, essentially provides a multiplayer platform for an assortment of aircraft, officials say.
The installation of the uplink at Nellis Air Force Base will be followed by simulator updates at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., and Marine Corps Naval Air Station Miramar, Calif., in 2021.