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Old 19th Jun 2014, 11:03
  #4643 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jul 2000
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AW&ST: 5th-To-4th Gen Fighter Comms Competition Eyed In Fiscal 2015

The U.S. Air Force is planning to request proposals from industry to finally provide needed communications connectivity between fifth- and fourth-generation fighters.

The service has long projected a need for so-called "5th to 4th" capability. This need is made even more urgent as the timeline for fielding the stealthy, fifth-generation F-35 has stretched out due to technical challenges in development and funding limitations at Air Force headquarters. And the service acquired far fewer stealthy F-22s from Lockheed Martin than originally planned, making the ability to connect each one to larger networks critical for campaign planning in future operations. Though called "5th to 4th," a major long-term issue is how to allow for the F-22 and F-35 to communicate without using Link 16 alone, which would compromise their stealthy operations............

The service has proposed a program, the Multi-Domain Adaptable Processing System (MAPS), to address this need with what will likely be a pod to act as a gateway between the two stealthy fighters. It is likely this will be placed on fourth-generation fighters such as the F-16 and F-15 families, thus putting a reliance on the involvement in these older systems to support communications requirements.

The operational concept would be for the stealthy fighters to penetrate behind the "bubble," or threat zone, of air defenses, and communicate with one another by transmitting data through the MAPS system. Though it enhances the communications among combat air forces, this operational concept is dependent upon the availability not only of the stealthy platforms to penetrate forward in a fight, but also on the presence of a fourth-generation fighter orbiting within range to support communications; this will likely add cost to execute certain campaign plans...........
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