Deadly Duo: The U.S. Air Force is Trying to Link Together Stealth F-22s and F-15s

Deadly Duo: The U.S. Air Force is Trying to Link Together Stealth F-22s and F-15s, by Dave Majumdar.

Boeing and the United States Air Force recently demonstrated the capabilities of the Talon HATE advanced datalink pod onboard the F-15C Eagle to connect the venerable air superiority fighter to newer fifth-generation fighters. …

An F-22 Raptor, an F-117 Nighthawk, an F-4 Phantom and an F-15 Eagle.

“This aerial network is a giant leap forward in tactical fighter capability with real-time connectivity and expanded information sharing,” said Paul Geery, vice president of Boeing’s Phantom Works Mission Solutions and the company’s Talon HATE program manager. “We are now demonstrating secure datalink connections between F-15Cs and F-22s in a way that integrates information for the pilot into a common operating picture.”

The key to the Talon HATE system is that it can share information between the F-22, F-15C and other platforms in real time. Right now, F-22 and F-15C pilots — who are the Air Force’s air superiority team — are forced to share data via voice communication over encrypted radio. The process, while effective, is inefficient. Real time machine-to-machine data transfers would allow the Air Force’s two key air dominance platforms to seamlessly share their data — and perhaps more importantly — share targeting information. Thus, a F-15C could use its AIM-120 AMRAAMs to engage a target that is being spotted far ahead by a stealthy F-22—without forcing the Raptor to use its expend its limited payload of missiles.

Networking is a potent force multiplier, and might keep the fourth generation fighters usefully employed.