USMC F-35, Navy ship interoperability demo established digital air connection

TEWKSBURY, Mass. The U.S. Navy and Raytheon completed a demonstration showing that Raytheon's Ship Self Defense System established a digital air connection between a sea-based U.S. Navy ship and an airborne U.S. Marine Corps Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) F-35B aircraft.

The demonstrations proved the combat system’s ability to share digital tactical data from a JSF across a deployed Expeditionary Strike Group, officials say. This capability, also referred to as Link 16 Digital Air Control (DAC), provides tactical, wireless integration between surface ships and aircraft, enhancing mission effectiveness through expanded situational awareness and interoperability. Shared data between surface ships and aircraft can include detected targets, mission assignment and engagement status exchange (without voice communication), and aircraft status information, such as fuel levels or weapons inventory.

“Information is key for any Commander – and shared information from multiple sources and vantage points extends our battlespace and our advantage over enemy threats,” explains U.S. Navy Captain Danny Busch, Program Executive Office – Ship Self Defense System (PEO IWS 10). “Now with the ability to link our sensors and weapons, from sea and air, SSDS is providing a level of interoperability and defensive capability never before available to the Expeditionary fleet.”

Working together with the U.S. Navy, Raytheon modified the current SSDS baseline (MK 2) to establish the DAC interface. In just under 18 months, the capability was developed, tested, and delivered to the USS WASP. Now proven, other SSDS MK 2-equipped ships will be upgraded to include this mission-enhancing Link 16 DAC capability.