USAF flight-tests battlespace system

The U.S. Air Force has successfully flight-tested a modified AC-130 gunship aircraft that enables the exchange of battlespace information between ground and airborne participants.

The Air Force's 46th Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base conducted the initial flight test. The Rockwell Collins solution demonstrated Link 16 messaging between an AC-130, a ground station at Hurlburt Airfield, a System Integration Lab at Eglin Air Force Base and an F-16 aircraft, using terrestrial and airborne networks.

The modified aircraft, with a battlespace information solution developed by Rockwell Collins, provides locations of friendly and enemy aircraft, ships and ground forces, enabling the AC-130 to take on a mission-command role. Participants also can electronically see the battlespace, including assigned targets, threats and imagery.

The aircraft uses Link 16 to provide real-time, jam-resistant secure transfer of combat data, voice and relative navigation information over dispersed battle elements. When combined with existing gunship display systems, users can exchange data over a continuously updated common communications link.

Rockwell Collins' solution enables display and transmission of battlespace information through integration of Link 16 and Cursor on Target functionality via a Rockwell Collins Data Link Processor and OpenEdge net-enablement software hosted on an Integrated Processing Cabinet.

Rockwell Collins supplies the data and display processing systems to BAE Systems, who integrates the Link 16 capabilities onto the platform. Twenty-five aircraft are planned to be modified under a Flexible Acquisition and Sustainment Tool prime contract from Lockheed Martin.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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