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Sweden is for the first time participating in a Link 16 test. Mark Hudspeth from SyntheSys UK, working on co-functionality of the participants platforms, and Gustaf Håkansson from Saab, are supporting FMV during the week long trial.Sweden is for the first time participating in a Link 16 test. Mark Hudspeth from SyntheSys UK, working on co-functionality of the participants platforms, and Gustaf Håkansson from Saab, are supporting FMV during the week long trial.

For the first time Sweden is participating as an active member in a NATO test of the Link 16 data-network. The Link 16 is designed to enable data transfer between aircraft, ships and combat control centres.


– Apart from learning much from our colleagues from other countries, we also get a confirmation that our systems are functioning in an appropriate way, according to Björn Wahlgren, FMV. 

The large hangar at Malmslätt in Linköping is empty except for the Saab 340 aircraft equipped with a big radar antenna. It is the Armed Forces flying platform for radar surveillance and command. Cables going from the open cabin door are connected to the work-stations on the floor and connect, trough simulators and crypto, the aircraft systems with its counterparts in many other countries.

This is the work-place for personell from the FMV and the Armed Forces that will perform tests with the Link 16 evenings and nights during a week.

The exercise is performed under the lead of the American Joint Interoperability Test Command, JITC, the purpose is to verify that all participating systems, such as aircraft, ground systems and ships are able to communicate.

Björn Wahlgren– Information is of the most importance during war. To be victorious you need an information advantage. Using Link 16 enables all participating parties to have direct access to the same information trough sharing the combat-mode in the system. The purpose of the test is to verify that all participants have access to the data and that commands are transmitted and received correctly, according to Björn Wahlgren, test manager for the Swedish system ASC 890.

Interaction is tested

During the international test, performed twice a year, the whole integration is tested. All participants cooperate in analysing each others system functionality and the experiences are collected in a database that describes the total functionality of the system. 

Some older platforms implement only parts of new standards. To enable a good cooperation the operators and pilots have to know the limitations prior to real operations, according to Björn Wahlgren.

It is the first time Sweden is participating as an active test member under these circumstances. Last spring a smaller test was performed with the English AWACS E-3D. This was to verify that the Swedish unit was ready to fully participate in the week long testing.

A complex test with high secrecy

 – It is a challenge and a long procedure to perform a test like this with a lot of IT-security, hardware and crypto equipment that all have to function in order to achieve a successful result. Now when everything is in place we are able to simulate targets and see that they are handled in the right way by the systems, ours and the other participants, according to Björn Wahlgren. 

During the week of testing, Björn Wahlgren and his colleagues goes trough almost all of the systems functionality. The Test Programme consists of almost 200 pages.

It gets warm inside the ASC890-airplane when all the equipment is running while the plane is in the hangar. Tomas Pettersson, Swedish Armed Forces and Björn Wahlgren, FMV, are situated  at the operator stations during the test.We have to perform flights in order to get our system fully tested against the Link 16. In this way, without flying, we can perform about 95 % of the tests. By comparison this is a very cost effective way of gaining these experiences, according to Björn Wahlgren.

Trough cooperation with other countries we learn a great deal from each other. Partly what equipment is used but also how the systems are used. I’m sure that we also have something worth sharing. This is a cost effective way of testing, either the Swedish Armed Forces will cooperate with the NATO or not.

Facts: Link 16

Owner: Nato. Users buy equipment and keys from the USA or NATO and make integration in their platforms.
Functionality: Combat Control, text messaging, Air and Sea modes, Surveillance.
Security: Uses around 50 frequencies, protection against jamming, encrypted.


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Published: 2015-02-12 10:14. Changed: 2015-02-12 10:37. Responsible: Show e-mail address.