Wednesday, October 26, 2011

First Canadian F-35s Won't Support Communications in the Extreme North

F35's wont get integrated satellite communications until 2019

The F-35 Lightning II has been delayed a lot longer than all of the participating countries would have liked, and one of the participating countries is Canada. Some of the first F-35 fighters that Canada takes delivery of will not be able to communicate in the country's most northern regions.

The problem is that current F-35’s and the next few builds will not have the ability to communicate via satellite. Canadian fighter aircraft operating in the arctic can only communicate by beaming their signals up to a satellite and then having it relayed back to the ground. Support for satellite communications isn't expected to be available in the F-35 until the fourth phase of production in 2019.

That is leaving Canada looking for other ways to allow the F-35 to communicate in the northern extremes of the country. However, the Winnipeg Free Press reports that Satellite communications for the F-35 are not guaranteed because research is still under way.

An official said, "That [satellite communications] hasn't all been nailed down yet," said the official. "As you can imagine there are a lot of science projects going on, exploring what is the best . . . capability, what satellites will be available."

Canada's current fleet of CF-18 fighters has satellite communications and the lack of satellite capability will make the F-35 less advanced in that respect than the current fighter.

One of the plans to equip the F-35 with the ability to communicate is adding an external communications pod to the aircraft. Defence Department spokesman Evan Koronewski said that the external pod is one of many alternatives being investigated right now.
Another source of concern for the Canadian F-35 fleet is aerial refueling. Canada uses older style "probe and drogue" connections for in-air refueling whereas the F-35 and other air forces of world use newer plug-in refueling connectors.

It’s unclear when Canada will upgrade its tankers to the newer style. Canada has asked the F-35 manufacturer if it is possible to equip its F-35 aircraft with a different fueling system. Lockheed Martin says that it can, but the final word on what Canada will do has not been offered.

The F-35 program finally hitting stride now with sea trials underway for the STOVL version in America.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press

2011 DailyTech LLC