US Navy Ship Self Defense System digitally connects with F-35B jet at sea for first time ever

Illustration: An F-35B Lightning II flies near the amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23). Photo: US Navy

The US Navy Ship Self Defense System (SSDS) established a digital air connection between a ship at sea and an airborne US Marine Corps Joint Strike Fighter F-35B aircraft for the first time ever.

The demonstrations proved the combat system’s ability to share digital tactical data from a JSF across a deployed expeditionary strike group.

Working together with the US Navy, Raytheon modified the current SSDS baseline (MK 2) to establish the DAC interface. The capability was developed, tested and delivered to the USS Wasp – and successfully demonstrated in under 18 months, Raytheon said.

Now proven, other SSDS MK 2-equipped ships will be upgraded to include this mission-enhancing Link 16 DAC capability.

Also referred to as Link 16 Digital Air Control, or DAC, the technology provides tactical, wireless integration between surface ships and aircraft, enhancing mission effectiveness through expanded situational awareness and interoperability.

According to Raytheon, the supplier of the SSDS, shared data between surface ships and aircraft can include detected targets, mission assignment and engagement status exchange (without voice communication), and aircraft status information, such as fuel levels or weapons inventory

“Information is key for any Commander – and shared information from multiple sources and vantage points extends our battlespace and our advantage over enemy threats,” said US Navy Captain Danny Busch, Program Executive Office – Ship Self Defense System (PEO IWS 10). “Now with the ability to link our sensors and weapons, from sea and air, SSDS is providing a level of interoperability and defensive capability never before available to the Expeditionary fleet.”

SSDS is an open, distributed combat management system in service on carriers and amphibious ships, including CVN, LSD, LPD, LHA and LHD classes. SSDS MK 2 is integrated with Raytheon’s Cooperative Engagement Capability for the extraction and distribution of sensor-derived information. This further enhances the ship’s anti-air warfare capability through the sharing of available data available to all participating CEC units.

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