F-35 Lightning II

Northrop Grumman‘s multifunction advanced data link (MADL) waveform has been validated as combat-ready after the US Marine Corps (USMC) achieved initial operational capability with F-35B Lightning II aircraft joint strike fighter (JSF).

The MADL communication system and missile warning system support the fifth-generation aircraft to communicate and coordinate tactics covertly.

The USMC’s Lockheed Martin-built F-35B achieved this milestone after completing a five-day operational readiness inspection (ORI) recently.

Northrop Grumman Information Systems communications division vice-president and general manager Jeannie Hilger said: "Northrop Grumman congratulates the Marine Corps on their achievement of this momentous F-35 milestone.

"The successful completion of IOC also validates Northrop Grumman’s more than ten-year effort to advance communication among fifth-generation aircraft."

The high-data-rate, directional communications link is part of Northrop Grumman’s F-35 integrated communications, navigation and identification (CNI) avionics.

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Being a significant element of the F-35 Block 2 software release, the company has delivered 181 CNI systems to Lockheed Martin.

"The successful completion of IOC also validates Northrop Grumman’s more than ten-year effort to advance communication among fifth-generation aircraft."

With the achievement of initial operational capability with F-35B, Yuma-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121) has become the first squadron to be operational with an F-35 variant.

Hilger added: "In addition to fifth-to-fifth, Northrop Grumman’s CNI system also provides a core capability for fifth-to-fourth generation networked data sharing and unparalleled interoperability."

Northrop has also developed the Freedom 550 software-defined radio that bridges fifth-to-fourth generation platform interoperability gaps.

The integrated CNI system offers F-35 pilots with the equivalent capability of over 27 avionics subsystems, the company stated.

The USMC’s F-35 JSF is expected to replace three legacy platforms such as the AV-8B Harrier, the F/A-18 Hornet, and the EA-6B Prowler.

Image: Lockheed Martin-built F-35B Lightning II aircraft joint strike fighter. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corporation.