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Marine Corps, Air Force test data sharing on F-22, F-35

Marine Corps, Air Force test data sharing on F-22, F-35
A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II fly in formation with the XQ-58A Valkyrie drone over the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground testing range in Arizona on Dec. 9. Photo by James Cason/U.S. Air Force

Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Last week the Marine Corps and the Air Force for the first time successfully tested bi-directional data sharing on the F-22 and F-35 in exercises in Arizona and Nevada.

According to the Air Force, the test was the latest demonstration of the network architecture underpinning its Advanced Battle Management System.

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Fifth-generation fighters are generally only able to communicate with each other and to command and control centers, but not with fighters in other classes because they use digital languages that aren't compatible.

But the gatewayONE system can translate between those formats, allowing the aircraft to more fully gather and share data and intelligence.

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The tests, which took place at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona as well as Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, included a Marine Corps F-35B and the Air Force's F-22 Raptor and F-35A Lightning II variants.

The test also included an attritableONE XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial device, flying semi-autonomously with an F-35A for the first time.

According to Lt. Col. Kate Stowe, gatewayONE program manager at the Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, the test achieved half of the 18 objectives Stowe outlined beforehand.

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"Testing is all about pushing the limits of what's possible, finding out where the toughest challenges are, and adapting creative solutions to overcoming difficult problem sets," Stowe said.

"The real win of the day was seeing the gatewayONE establish a secure two-way translational data path across multiple platforms and multiple domains. That's the stuff ABMS is all about," she said.

The joint forces also successfully tested a communications pathway between the KC-46 Pegasus tanker and a ground node using commercial internet routing standards over the Tactical Targeting Network Technology waveform.

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"If fifth-generation platforms are going to be quarterbacks of a joint-penetrating team, we have to be able to communicate with those quarterbacks in an operationally relevant manner and enable data sharing between them, to them, and from them. For years people said it couldn't be done. Today the team turned another page toward making the impossible possible," said Preston Dunlap, Air and Space Force's chief architect.

"In just 12 months, the team has opened the door to a world where we can put the power of an operations center into the cockpit at the tactical edge," Dunlap said.

The ABMS, which will be the backbone of a network-centric partnership between all branches of the military, is the top modernization priority for the Air Force and has a five-year budget of $3.3 billion.

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The Air Force tested ABMS for the second time in September, and in October the Army and Air Force signed a two-year collaboration agreement to link the Army's Project Convergence with the Air Force and Space Force's Advanced Battlefield Management System.

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