Information Warfare: Israel And The Airborne Internet

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January 30, 2009: The Israeli Air Force is networking all its combat aircraft and helicopters. It's doing this by installing a "generic avionic server" (GAS) in each aircraft that will be connected to the Internet like network. The GAS functions as a translator, for whatever the onboard sensors or electronics need to share. As with similar efforts in other air forces (particularly the United States) the goal is to enable aircraft (and troops, ships and headquarters down below) to quickly share data.
The U.S. has been working to make this happen for seven years now. But getting "battlefield broadband" to work has been a work in progress, just as it has been in the commercial sector (where progress has also been slow.) Everyone in the United States is using the air force Link 16 data format for sending digital data over a wireless network. Four years ago, a 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. The successful test demonstrated that all three services had successfully modified their communications gear to handle Link 16 data. This was followed by tests 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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