Members of the airborne networking division within the 653rd Electronic Systems Group at Hanscom AFB, Mass., are tacking the challenge of adding secure data-linking technology known as the multi-function advanced data link (MADL) onto the B-2, F-22, and F-35 so that these three low-observable platforms will have the means to share data amongst themselves and other aircraft in a manner that doesn’t blow their stealth cover. Originally MADL was going to be integrated onto the F-35 first and then the technology would have been handed over to the F-22 and B-2 programs in a serial fashion for inclusion on those aircraft. But then, last November, the Office of the Secretary of Defense decreed that MADL must be developed for integration on all three platforms, with an emphasis on ensuring an enterprise approach. Kim Kendall, MADL program manager, said the Air Force has already validated that the MADL waveform originally developed with the F-35 in mind will support all three platforms. The MADL program office is now working to fully define the system’s requirements. (Hanscom report by Chuck Paone)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.