Hydra Demo Shows Glimpse Into Future Warfare Approach

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Unread post05 May 2021, 06:43

Hydra Demo Shows Glimpse Into Future Warfare Approach
30 Apr 2021 Steve Trimble

"Three Lockheed Martin aircraft—the U-2S, F-22 and F-35A—quietly are demonstrating a new way of American warfare, in which stealth jets team up with the venerable high-altitude platform to replace spy satellites and traditional airborne command posts.

F-35 sensors cued PAC-3 interceptor battery

U-2S enabled bidirectional comms between F-35 and F-22

An eight-year series of demonstrations led by Lockheed’s Skunk Works has culminated in the newly completed Project Hydra, which showed how to overcome design decisions that prevented these aircraft from being able to share data among one other or critical weapon systems on the ground....

...“Project Hydra marks the first time that bidirectional communications were established between fifth-generation aircraft in flight while also sharing operational and sensor data down to ground operators for real-time capability,” says Jeff Babione, Skunk Works vice president and general manager.

Specifically, an F-22 transmitted data on the Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) to an Open Systems Gateway (OSG) payload onboard the U-2. The OSG, supported by the U-2’s Enterprise Mission Computer 2 system, then instantly created a network not unlike the many-headed Hydra serpent of Greek mythology, facilitating overlapping data streams among the F-22’s IFDL and the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) on five F-35s, as well as to multiple ground systems.

As the F-22 collaborated with its fifth-generation fighter wingmen, the F-35 passed its own sensor data over the MADL to an airborne gateway. It then delivered the messages via a Tactical Targeting Network Terminal (TTNT) link to the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) via a newly developed Lockheed Airborne Sensor Adaptation Kit (A-Kit). The company previously delivered F-35 sensor data to a MADL Ground Station called Harvest Lightning. The A-Kit allows the F-35 to deliver the missile tracking data to the IBCS through Harvest Lightning, or directly via a TTNT message.

The capability means the IBCS can feed missile tracks to a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 battery using the stealthy F-35’s over-the-horizon field of view instead of relying only on ground-based tracking radars.

Finally, by connecting via the U-2, the F-35 and F-22 can remain in contact through Link 16 and beyond-line-of-sight links to the ground-based alternatives to the E-3G and E-8C: the newly opened Common Mission Control Center at Beale AFB, California; and the Shadow Operations Center at Nellis AFB, Nevada....

...Project Hydra builds on nearly a decade of Lockheed-directed demonstrations of airborne networking capabilities involving the F-35A, F-22 and U-2S. In 2013, Project Missouri showed how an F-22 could pass data over the secure Chameleon waveform to the F-35 avionics testbed in flight by repurposing L-Band antennas already on the jets as air combat maneuvering instrumentation....

...Each demonstration supports a vision of future warfare that demands seamless data transfers among air, ground and surface systems that were not designed to collaborate with each other. In some cases, these secure, ad hoc mesh networks must be assembled literally on the fly, patching together disparate radios for the first time in flight. To enable that capability, Lockheed showed in a demonstration last November that the software for the U-2S mission computer could be updated in flight using a ground-based transmission and software code containerized by Google’s Kubernetes orchestration tool."

Photo: "A high-altitude U-2S demonstrated its new role as an airborne switchboard operator between fighters and ground systems. Credit: Staff Sgt. Robert Trujillo/U.S. Air Force" https://aviationweek.com/sites/default/ ... _promo.jpg


Source: https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/ ... e-approach
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Unread post07 May 2021, 21:49

All-Domain Demo Links U-2, F-35 & F-22
07 May 2021 Theresa Hitchens

"WASHINGTON: Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works has demonstrated a capability for F-22 and F-35 fighter jets to share situational awareness data in flight — via a U-2 spy plane kitted out with the company’s ‘translation’ software, says Dan Markham, Skunk Works director of JADO/BMC2. Lockheed also transmitted data from the F-35 to a ground station using a Navy datalink, TTNT, and then on from there to an Army network, IBCS. “This is really the first time that all three of those live platforms in the air were connected,” he said in an interview yesterday.

The spring demonstration, dubbed Project Hydra, was partially funded by the Air Force and the Missile Defense Agency, Markham said. The goal of the project was to continue the evolution of Lockheed Martin’s Enterprise Mission Computer 2 (EMC2), nicknamed the Einstein Box. It’s being developed to link legacy platforms to each other and users on the ground to enable All-Domain Operations, he explained.

Project Hydra was not the first time a software ‘gateway’ was used to allow the incompatible F-22 and F-35 radio links to communicate. That milestone was accomplished during the Air Force’s first Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) on ramp, using a software system called gatewayONE developed by Lockheed Martin, Honeywell and Northrop Grumman. But in that demo, gatewayONE was installed in a tablet on the ground. Why can’t they talk with each other, you might wonder? Well, F-22s use a unique “Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL)” that works only with other F-22s, while the newer F-35s use the stealthy Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL), which can only talk to other F-35s.

Markham explained that Skunk Works in December was able to use its own cloud-based software system, the Open Systems Gateway (OSG) embedded in the Einstein Box, to process sensor data on board during a flight of the U-2 Dragon Lady. But in that demo, the sensor data was collected by a computer node on the ground and then uplinked to the aircraft’s radio. “This is the first time where we got all [three platforms] connected in the air at the same time … in an operational context,” Markham said.

The planes were able not just to talk to each other, but also the U-2 also transmitted situational awareness data gathered from the fighters to radio receivers on the ground. This included not just ‘blue force’ information about the planes themselves (such as their flight paths, number of weapons available for launch, etc.), but also the data on potential targets gathered by the fighters’ cockpit sensors....

...For example, Markham said, the Einstein Box on the U-2 transmitted F-35 sensor data to a ground-based computer using the Navy’s Tactical Targeting Network Terminal (TTNT, also known as Tactical Targeting Networking Technology developed by Collins Aerospace). The TTNT link is used by the Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic warfare plane, and is being installed in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as part of the ongoing Block III upgrade by Boeing. The first two of those upgraded Super Hornets were delivered last year.

The demo “marked the first time F-35 sensor data was delivered to an operational ground system over a Tactical Targeting Network Terminal (TTNT) link using an airborne gateway,” the company’s release says.

From that ground computer, Lockheed Martin used its Airborne Sensor Adaptation Kit (A-Kit) to send the F-35 sensor data to the Army’s Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) Tactical System Integration Laboratory (TSIL) at Fort Bliss. IBCS subsequently used the F-35 sensor data to conduct a simulated Army fires exercise. (IBCS is the linch-pin of the Army’s Project Convergence plans to build new capabilities to support Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

The EMC2 computer further demonstrated the ability to transmit data via the venerable Link 16, used by most NATO aircraft. Markham said that Skunk Works is now planning a future demo to use the TTNT with more types of sensor data, possibly even from ships operating at sea....

...Lockheed Martin is developing all its Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) related software and hardware based on DoD’s Open Mission Systems standards so the services can avoid future stovepiping and vendor lock, she said.

“Ultimately at the end of the day, we’re driving to a JADO environment,” Costa said. “Part of JADO necessitates that whatever technology we are delivering and the capability we’re building, they have to work across services, across domains … to ensure faster, better decision-making.”"

Graphic: "Lockheed Martin’s Project Hydra" https://sites.breakingmedia.com/uploads ... a-990.jpeg


Source: https://breakingdefense.com/2021/05/all ... f-35-f-22/
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