All U.S. Aircraft Could Talk to Each Other, Someday

The Air Force's Chief Information Officer, Lt. Gen. William Lord just shed some more light on how the Pentagon is working to solve the timeless problem of getting all its jets, satellites and ground vehicles to talk to one another.

The Air Force’s Chief Information Officer, Lt. Gen. William Lord just shed some more light on how the Pentagon is working to solve the timeless problem of getting all its jets, satellites and ground vehicles to talk to one another using their datalinks.

“Today we have this dog’s breakfast of different datalinks, formats and configurations in the airborne network,” said Lord during an Air Force Association-sponsored conference on cyberwarfare yesterday. “So our staff, quite frankly working with the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Army is coming up with the Joint Aerial Layer Network” that will link ground, space and airborne communications nodes together allowing them to talk to one another.

Lord mentioned the plethora of datalinks on the air side alone that have extreme trouble talking to one another, from Link-16 and Link-11 found on older jets to the F-22’s Intra Flight Data Link (IFDL) and the F-35’s Multi Function Advanced Datalink (MADL). Here’s more detail on the difficulties in getting these systems to communicate; difficulties the new network is designed to overcome, said Lord.

The soon-to-be gone U.S. joint Forces Command is conducting an analysis of alternatives on how to develop this new network that is expected to wrap up sometime this fall, according to Lord.

All this comes after weeks of speculation that the real reason the F-22 Raptor was kept out of the Libya fight was its inability to securely communicate with other aircraft via its datalinks.