Stealth fighters to communicate via U-2

Stealth fighters to communicate via U-2
Stealth fighters to communicate via U-2

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, the Missile Defence Agency and the U.S. Air Force successfully linked a U-2, five F-35s and an F-22 in air and provided real-time 5th Generation data to operators on the ground with ‘Project Hydra’ and TTNT. Aircraft established communications gateway via a Lockheed U-2.


The F-35’s Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) and the F-22’s Intra-Flight Data Link are incompatible, and cannot transmit data to each other. U-2 will establish a data gateway between one F-22 and five F-35s. Missile Defence Agency and Lockheed Martin integrated “Open Systems Gateway” communications payload aboard a U-2 to pass data, Lockheed said on 3 May. The gateway also allowed the stealth aircraft to share data with units on the ground. And, target tracks were transmitted by and through the U-2 into the fighters’ avionics and pilot displays, the company says.

Stealth fighters to communicate via U-2

The core of the Hydra payload leverages the Open Mission Systems (OMS) compliant Enterprise Mission Computer 2 (EMC2), facilitating F-22, F-35, TTNT and Link-16 connections. By leveraging both line-of-sight (LOS) and beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) datalink capabilities of the U-2, data can now be shared directly to tactical users and globally to command and control (C2) nodes like the Common Mission Control Centre (CMCC).


Stealth fighters to communicate via U-2During this demonstration, both the CMCC and Shadow Operations Centre at Nellis Air Force Base were able to view the sensor and platform data to enable situational awareness for operational command and control of highly capable air assets.

Thanks to the project duplex communication was established between fifth-generation aircraft in-flight and operational and sensor data was shared to ground operators for real-time capability (Tactical Targeting Network Terminal /TTNT).

Using the TTNT, data from the F-35 was sent to a US Army Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) Airborne Sensor Adaptation Kit (A-Kit), also developed by Lockheed Martin. The command centre used the data to orchestrate a simulated “army fires exercise”.

Stealth fighters to communicate via U-2

In December, the USAF demonstrated an F-35A and F-22 exchanging data for the first time using a ground-based gatewayONE system.