Northrop Grumman has proposed the use of its RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle for the U.S. Air Force to bridge a communications gap between the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor aircraft platforms, Defense News reported.
The report said the service branch’s F-35 and F-22 planes currently are unable to exchange information because the former uses the Multifunction Advanced Data Link to transmit data while the latter communicates via the Intra-Flight Data Link.
Mike Lyons, head of Global Hawk business development at Northrop, told Defense News he believes Global Hawk could serve as a translator between F-35 and F-22 using the company’s Freedom 550 software-defined radio technology.
Freedom 550 is also designed to link fifth-generation fighters such as F-35s and F-22s with fourth-generation platforms like F-15s and F-16s.
Northrop has pitched the idea to the Air Force and is waiting for the service branch to require such offering, Lyons said to the publication.
He added the company will likely offer a Freedom 550-equipped Global Hawk if the service branch release an official joint urgent-operational-needs statement.