Waiting on a Program of Record

Le Bourget, France Lockheed Martin has worked on so-called “fourth-to-fifth generation” information sharing technology that could connect USAF’s fleet of F-35s with its legacy fourth generation fleet, but so far no requirements have been put into a program of record, the company’s F-35 executive vice president said. Speaking during the Paris Air Show this week, Boeing executives forecasted a need for near-term upgrades and modifications for both the USAF and Japan’s F-15 fleet, because of the need to operate the Eagle alongside the F-22 and F-35. Lockheed has done its own work using “low-detection” technology, or stealthy communications, in a demo, F-35 Executive Vice President Lorraine Martin told Air Force Magazine. Martin said Lockheed’s “Project Missouri” was a successful demonstration last year to show the F-22 could transmit data and keep its stealthy profile. Link 16 is available now for the F-35, she also noted, and other companies are doing work on this problem as well. “We also want to do data-rich communications,” she added. “Because, why give yourself away if you don’t have to?” The technology is in the market, and while Air Combat Command has established the need for a fourth-to-fifth gen concept, as of yet no program has emerged from limited demonstrations. “Somebody has to say it’s a requirement … but today that doesn’t exist,” Martin added.