The justification game for the F-22 Raptor continues: F-22 superjets could act as flying Wi-Fi hotspots:
US defence contractors have carried out the first flight tests in which America’s latest cutting-edge fighter targeting radars have been put to novel use – as high-capacity wireless datalinks. This crafty use of existing hardware has the potential to ease military bandwidth bottlenecks, and could offer a chance for expensive superfighters to be of use even in the absence of serious aerial opposition.
The latest generation of US military aircraft carry so-called Active Electronically Scanned Array* (AESA) radars, which are made up of many separate transmit-receive elements. AESA radars have long been heralded as miraculous multi-tasking kit, capable of acting as electronic-warfare scanners, jammers, or even electromagnetic weapons capable of frying enemy circuitry from afar.
There have also been ground trials in which the radar from America’s ultra-advanced, hyper-expensive F-22 “Raptor” stealth superfighter has been used as a kind of Wi-Fi card on steroids, able to transmit data at a blistering 548 Mbit/sec and receive it at Gigabit speed.
Now, I’m not arguing against taking advantage of everything you can. But as time goes on the F/A/R/C/E-22 Raptor…cleans windows too! plan seems more and more obvious. I noted that in December of 2005, and nothing since then has lessened the pressure to justify the planes in any number of weird ways.
Seems that flying datalink hub would be a great job for a UAV that could loiter for days. Or for a blimp that could loiter for weeks or more. Not for a superexpensive superfighter that can hang around for an hour.
Incidentally, why not put a megadatalink into a B-747 JDAM platform that could be circling miles above the battlefield? Wouldn’t a B-747 program command enough develpment dollars?