September 17, 2009 (by Eric L. Palmer) - EMS Technologies, Inc. announced today that its Defense & Space (D&S) Division has been awarded a contract by Lockheed Martin to start development of an electronically-steered, switched-beam antenna for the F-22 Multi-function Advanced Data Link (MADL) system upgrade.
Two F-22 Raptors and one B-2 Spirit deployed to Andersen AFB, from the 90th EFS and the 13th EBS fly in formation over the Pacific Ocean on April 14th, 2009. [USAF photo by MSgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald]
EMS currently provides the F-22 intra-flight data link antenna. The contract is expected to have a value of approximately $3.7 million through 2010. The MADL upgrade will provide improvements critical to the evolution of communications-dependent net-centric operations. The EMS antenna-based MADL system extends the capabilities of the existing F-22 fleet and makes it possible for these fighters to maintain net-centric communications among differing types of aircraft.
EMS’s switched-beam antenna provides a low-cost alternative to a full phased-array antenna and will enable F-22 aircraft to communicate with the F-35 fighter. The antenna technology may be applicable to other aircraft needing MADL capability, such as the Air Force’s F-15, F-16 and B-2 aircraft, and the Navy’s F-18, E-2 and E-3 planes.
“Our national defense posture increasingly depends on deploying more and more cross-platform networked communications to improve situational awareness and operational effectiveness,” said Mike Fatig, vice president of Business Development for EMS Defense & Space. “As EMS continues to provide key upgrades and maintenance support to the F-22 fleet, this particular upgrade will provide interoperability with F-35 and other aircraft platforms. Our electronically-steered, switched-beam antenna approach also minimizes the retrofit effort because of its design: it supports backward compatibility and does not alter the plane’s outer mold surface contours, which would affect the aircraft’s aerodynamic and communications characteristics.”
EMS has delivered over 400 IFDL flight-sets over the life span of the F-22 program and expects to provide future maintenance and upgrade support services for the current fleet in flight and those in construction. The MADL upgrade is expected to include more than 200 antennas on the F-22 alone.