With the introduction of the fifth-generation stealth jet F-35, which packs advanced sensor arrays and situational awareness computers, an issue emerged in terms of enabling the jet to communicate with its predecessor, the F-22 , which is still widely used in the US Air Force.
The latest test of the gatewayONE communication system, developed to allow F-35 and F-22 jets to communicate with each other and transfer mission data without being spotted, failed, but the Pentagon still believes it is on the right track to making the two fighters work together.
According to US Air Force acquisition executive Will Roper, the trial on 9 December at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, managed to fulfill half of the tasks set before it. However, the gatewayONE module mounted on an unmanned Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie drone flying alongside the two jets “lost connectivity” soon after take-off. The preliminary version is that some of the module’s hardware was displaced or came loose during lift-off.
The Air Force believes the gatewayONE will be able to give the necessary connectivity between the newest jet and its predecessor, but admits the proof of concept might be months away due to the setbacks in the last trial. Nonetheless, the 9 December test gave some promising results – namely, the on the ground second gatewayONE module managed to transfer some of the data between the F-22 and the F-35 in the skies, such as targeting cues. Although, it never managed to transfer all the information…