The US Navy has used Raytheon’s Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) to demonstrate the establishment of the first-ever digital air link from a surface vessel USS WASP to an F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft.
Known as Link 16 Digital Air Control (DAC), the capability demonstrates the combat system’s integration ability to share digital tactical information from a JSF across a deployed Expeditionary Strike Group.
DAC enables tactical, wireless integration between surface vessels and aircraft, improving mission effectiveness through expanded situational awareness and interoperability.
The wireless data integration between the assets can include detected targets, mission assignment and engagement status exchange (without voice communication), and aircraft status information, such as fuel levels or weapons inventory.
US Navy Program Executive Office – Ship Self Defense System (PEO IWS 10) captain Danny Busch said: “Information is key for any commander, and shared information from multiple sources and vantage points extend our battle space and our advantage over enemy threats.
“Now with the ability to link our sensors and weapons, from sea and air, SSDS is providing a level of interoperability and defensive capability never before available to the Expeditionary fleet.”
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Working in cooperation with the US Navy, Raytheon has modified the current SSDS baseline (MK2) to set up the DAC interface.
The capability was developed, tested and delivered to the USS WASP in under one and a half years.
Other SSDS MK 2-equipped navy vessels will be upgraded to include the upgraded mission-enhancing Link 16 DAC capability.