Boeing Develops System to Network Jet Fighters

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

Using a new airborne networking system, Boeing recently demonstrated that it could send secure communications and data between fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft, a company executive said.

During a recent flight test at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the company proved it could connect an F-15C Eagle with an F-22 Raptor via a data link enabled by a system known as the Talon Hate pod, said Paul Geery, vice president of mission solutions at Boeing’s Phantom Works division.

“Right now in the current system, there’s limited ability to communicate between those two aircraft with data,” he said.

With the Talon Hate pods, the aircraft can share real-time updated information via communication links and create a robust operating picture, he said.

“I liken this to taking Google Maps from just being maps to being updated constantly,” he said. “It’s cool to be able to see a map on a display … but it’s really cool to see a map on a display with updated information about where the traffic jams, … gas stations and restaurants” are.

Boeing began work on the Air Force program in late 2013. It went through the design, build and procurement phases and began testing it in 2015. Under the contract, Boeing built four systems, Geery said. 

Based on those tests, the company has made a number of modifications including making the system easier to operate for the user as well as ruggedizing the pod to better handle the rigors of flying on the bottom of an aircraft, he added.

The program is a way to give more capability to older platforms, he noted.

“We are interested in doing anything we can to help extend the life of some of the [Air Force’s] programs … given their challenges with assets and resources,” Geery said. “This provides an additional capability for some of their more mature systems.”

The pod can be used with other aircraft, he added.

When asked about the peculiar name of the system, a Boeing spokeswoman said the term “hate” came from the Air Force and has no particular meaning.

Topics: Aviation, Network defense

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