The Air Force has invested billions of dollars in technology inside its two most modern fighter jets, the F-35 and F-22. Their sensors give pilots an almost omniscient power of situational awareness.
Yet there is one thing that technology does not allow them to do: Talk to each other.
It’s a stunning gap in capability — the two aircraft cannot currently transmit and receive information between each other because they use different secure data links using different waveforms. In all fairness, this is not traditional radio comms, but “stealth” communication that aims to be undetectable by adversaries.
Nevertheless, the Air Force has known about this problem for years, but apparently it was not considered an urgent concern because there were not really that many F-35s in the fleet. Now, however, that is changing.
Defense contractor Northrop Grumman says its got a fix for the problem and can create a data link between the two aircraft, and they are just waiting for the Air Force to approve it. That would probably be a good idea.