Air Weapons: Smart Bombs and the Battlefield Internet


September 17, 2005: The U.S. Department of Defense wants the aircraft (including
UAVs) of all three services to be able to communicate digitally (as in a
battlefield Internet). Work has been going on, to make this happen, for the last
three years. Everyone is using the air force Link 16 data format for sending
digital data over a wireless network. A recent test had an army UH-60A
helicopter, a navy F-18 and an air force F-15E, sitting on the ground, sending
and receiving digital data. A ground station was also tied into the network.
This test was a success, and demonstrated that all three services had
successfully modified their communications gear to handle Link 16 data. The next
tests will be with the aircraft in the air, including an army UAV and an AH-64
helicopter gunship, followed by tests with aircraft firing weapons, using target
data from another aircraft, or someone on the ground. By the end of the decade,
the Department of Defense wants to have the capability for troops on the ground,
to share targeting data (including live video), with aircraft, and vice versa.
Sort of battlefield video conferencing, with weapons.


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