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Tests Show F-35s Can Share Data With Older Aircraft

Reuters // August 28, 2015

Two weeks of joint testing of the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet at a California air base by the Royal Netherlands Air Force showed that the new stealthy jets are able to share a significant amount of data with older warplanes, the pilot in charge of Dutch F-35 testing told Reuters.
 
Colonel Albert De Smit, commander of the Netherlands operational test detachment, said the testing sought to validate that the new fifth-generation F-35s could share useable data with older F-16s and aerial refueling aircraft via the Link 16 system.

He said the results showed that during combat, the F-35 could help relay key targeting, surveillance and other data to less capable F-16s and other planes, in much the same way that the U.S. Air Force's F-22 fighter jets work with older aircraft.
 
"The amount of information that we can share is very promising," De Smit said in a telephone interview this week. "It provides fourth generation aircraft with information that they normally would not have ... It looks like they're going to be able to execute a better mission" if used together with F-35 jets.
 
He added that it could take months to fully evaluate the results of the tests, which involved two to three Dutch and British F-35s, as well as Dutch F-16s, refueling planes and a small fleet of A-4 Skyhawks posing as enemy aircraft.
 
The Netherlands is one of the eight countries that joined the United States in funding development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and its military is a formal part of the F-35 operational test community, along with the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, as well as Britain and Australia.
 
The Netherlands already had two F-35 A-model jets, which are being used for the testing, and it plans to order 37 more in coming years. The planes due to go into service in 2019.

To read the full article, visit Reuters' website.