Aerospace Firms Demonstrate Two-Way Data Feed for F-16

By Kutner, Joshua A. | National Defense, October 1999 | Go to article overview

Aerospace Firms Demonstrate Two-Way Data Feed for F-16


Kutner, Joshua A., National Defense


Industry players are working to attract Air Force business by proving the viability of a two-way satellite communication system that provides real-time intelligence to the cockpit of an F-16. This will be the first time such a capability is demonstrated on an Air Force fighter aircraft, according to industry sources.

Once operational, F-16 pilots will be able to correspond with any operating base, command post or intelligence source using two-way voice and data links, officials said. The Air Force, however, has not awarded any contracts for this system, and officials said there are no current plans to go forward with the project.

"We are not working anything related to this for F-16," said Col. Jeff Riemer, USAF, F-16 system program office commander.

Companies currently are building prototypes to demonstrate that such a communications capability is possible.

F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems, Fort Worth, Texas, and Allied Signal Inc., headquartered in Torrance, Calif., have partnered to bring this technology to fruition through the use of a communications system provided by Iridium LLC. This Washington, D.C.-based firm is a provider of satellite-based, wireless personal communications. The telecommunications platform is a space-based network developed for Iridium by Motorola.

The system consists of a low-earth orbit constellation of 66 interconnected satellites. The satellites communicate with each other using crosslink antennas.

The satellite system allows for worldwide telecommunication services, such as voice, data, fax and paging. It does not require ground stations for global telephone service. The Iridium system first became operational in 1998.

Communications Suite

The communications suite will be installed in an F-16 using off-the-shelf equipment provided by Allied Signal Inc. …

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