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UK MoD tests airborne gateway in Babel Fish III

17th February 2017 - 10:30 by The Shephard News Team

The UK Ministry of Defence's Babel Fish III trial has seen the successful deployment of an airborne gateway between an F-35B Lightning II and a Typhoon FGR4 aircraft.

The gateway, developed by Northrop Grumman, connected the fifth-generation F-35B, which communicates using the stealthy Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), and the fourth-generation Typhoon, by translating MADL messages to Link 16 format.

Link 16 is the US and NATO military tactical data link used by military aircraft, ships and ground forces for the communication and exchange of tactical data. The F-35 and the Typhoon can communicate directly via Link 16 but previously could not communicate or share certain fifth-generation information.

This demonstrated ability to share MADL data is an important capability as the UK moves closer to initial operating capability of its F-35 Lightning II Force in late 2018.

The two-week trial was conducted in airspace above the upper Mojave Desert, California, as part of the Royal Air Force's Exercise High Rider.

Northrop Grumman's Airborne Gateway translates and relays information from various sources across diverse platforms and domains to enhance interoperability, situational awareness, communications and coordination in the air, on the ground and at sea. The system is derived from the combat-proven airborne communications node that Northrop Grumman provides to the US Air Force.

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