Italian and US Air Force F-35s have shared data using the Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MALD), marking the first time front foreign frontline aircraft have interacted with the US’ aircraft.I
t happened during the Astral Knight 2019 exercises and gives a marked increase in the ability for coalition aircraft to interact with those of the US is any combat scenario.
The MALD, is a latest generation data link used by F-35, B-2, and Aegis warships, among others and is similar to the Inter/Intra-Flight Data Link (IFDL) used on the F-22, the main difference being in that it is to be carried multiple types, whereas the IFDL is only used by the F-22 and Talon HATE pod, MADL is carried by multiple platforms and may well be added to other platforms, including F-22.
Speaking to The Aviationist Col. Davide Marzinotto said of the MADL, “The available bandwidth capacity allows us to transfer much more information, which also translates into a better quality of “service”. It is like comparing the connectivity and services offered by the GSM mobile network with the current 4G networks: with the bandwidth available 10 years ago we could at most send text messages; today we can use Whatsapp and attach images, emoticons, audio and video files to the text.”
Ex. Astral Night is held yearly by the United States Air Forces in Europe with the task of demonstrating the capabilities of the US Air and Missile defence system in Europe. This year’s exercise also featured the Italian Air Force and the Croatian Air Force.
Nick Ashwell-Rice has worked in aviation and defence journalism since 2014 whilst also maintaining a career outside of the industry. He has been Editor-in-Chief at Talking Aero since its inception