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The US Air Force F-35 will act as an elevated sensor for Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense. Two F-35s were integrated with the US Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), providing an airborne sensor capability to successfully detect, track and intercept near simultaneous air-breathing threats.

A December 2019 test at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, marked the first time F-35s were used as sensors during an IBCS live fire test against multiple airborne targets.

Linking F-35s to IBCS via the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) provided enhanced situational awareness and weapons-quality track data to engage airborne targets. 

The proof of concept demonstration used experimental equipment developed by Lockheed Martin, including the Harvest Lightning Ground Station and IBCS adaptation kit (A-Kit).

According to the company’s announcement, this test is the latest in a series of successful activities to demonstrate the F-35’s role as the keystone of the joint force. 

“The F-35’s advanced sensors and connectivity enable it to gather, analyze and seamlessly share critical information with the joint fighting force to lead the multi-domain battlespace,” said Greg Ulmer, the vice president and general manager of the F-35 program at the company. 

Jay Pitman, vice president, Lower Tier Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control said: “This test represents a major milestone for multi-domain operations by leveraging airborne assets to detect and track threats that can then be countered with ground-based effectors. This demonstrates a tremendous capability to defeat threats that are terrain masked or beyond ground-based sensor detection capabilities due to terrain and curvature of the earth.”

Lockheed Martin is evolving technologies that connect, share and learn to create a holistic network that provides unprecedented situational awareness across the battlespace and enables Multi-Domain Operations.