Link 16
Link 16 is a military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

The term data refers to qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables. Data are typically the results of measurements and can be the basis of graphs, images, or observations of a set of variables. Data are often viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which...

 exchange network created and used by the United States and adopted by some of its Allies and by NATO. Its specification is part of the family of Tactical Data Links.

With Link 16, military aircraft
Military aircraft
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:...

 as well as ships and ground forces may exchange their tactical picture in near-real time. Link 16 also supports the exchange of text messages, imagery data and provides two channels of digital voice (2.4 kbit/s and/or 16 kbit/s in any combination). Link 16 is defined as one of the digital services of the JTIDS / MIDS
Multifunctional Information Distribution System
Multifunctional Information Distribution System is the NATO name for the communication component of Link-16.One commonly used instantiation of an MIDS is the MIDS Low Volume Terminal which has been funded by the United States, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and developed by MIDSCO, a joint...

 in NATO's Standardization Agreement STANAG
STANAG is the NATO abbreviation for Standardization Agreement, which sets up processes, procedures, terms, and conditions for common military or technical procedures or equipment between the member countries of the alliance. Each NATO state ratifies a STANAG and implements it within their own...

 5516. MIL-STD-6016 is the related United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 Link 16 MIL-STD.

Technical characteristics

Link 16 is a TDMA
Time division multiple access
Time division multiple access is a channel access method for shared medium networks. It allows several users to share the same frequency channel by dividing the signal into different time slots. The users transmit in rapid succession, one after the other, each using its own time slot. This...

-based secure
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

, jam-resistant high-speed digital
A digital system is a data technology that uses discrete values. By contrast, non-digital systems use a continuous range of values to represent information...

 data link which operates in the radio frequency band 960–1,215 MHz, allocated in line with the ITU
Itu is an old and historic municipality in the state of São Paulo in Brazil. The population in 2009 was 157,384 and the area is 641.68 km². The elevation is 583 m. This place name comes from the Tupi language, meaning big waterfall. Itu is linked with the highway numbered the SP-75 and are flowed...

 Radio Regulations
Radio Regulations
The Radio Regulations is an intergovernmental treaty text of the International Telecommunication Union , the Geneva-based specialised agency of the United Nations which coordinates and standardises the operation of telecommunication networks and services and advances the development of...

 to the aeronautical radionavigation service and to the radionavigation satellite service. This frequency range limits the exchange of information to users within line-of-sight of one another, although emerging technologies provide the means to pass Link 16 data over long-haul protocols such as TCP/IP
Internet protocol suite
The Internet protocol suite is the set of communications protocols used for the Internet and other similar networks. It is commonly known as TCP/IP from its most important protocols: Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol , which were the first networking protocols defined in this...

 and UHF SATCOM. It uses the transmission characteristics and protocols, conventions, and fixed-length
TADIL-J refers to "Tactical Digital Information Link Joint" which was used by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, the NSA, several NATO countries, and Japan as part of the Multi-Tactical Data Link Network...

 or variable length
Variable Message Format
Variable Message Format, abbreviated "VMF", is a protocol used in communicating tactical military information.A message formatted using VMF can be sent via many communication methods. Because it does not define this method, it is not a Tactical Digital Information Link.VMF is documented in...

 message formats defined by MIL-STD 6016, STANAG 5516 (formerly the JTIDS
Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
The Joint Tactical Information Distribution System is an L band TDMA network radio system used by the United States armed forces and their allies to support data communications needs, principally in the air and missile defense community...

 technical interface design plan). Information is typically passed at one of three data rates: 31.6, 57.6 or 115.2 kilobits per second, although the radios and waveform itself can support throughputs upwards of 238 kbit/s.

Link 16 information is primarily coded in so called J.-series messages
TADIL-J refers to "Tactical Digital Information Link Joint" which was used by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, the NSA, several NATO countries, and Japan as part of the Multi-Tactical Data Link Network...

; i.e., binary
Binary numeral system
The binary numeral system, or base-2 number system, represents numeric values using two symbols, 0 and 1. More specifically, the usual base-2 system is a positional notation with a radix of 2...

 data words with well-defined meanings. These data words are grouped in functional areas, and allocated to network participation groups (virtual networks), most importantly:
  • PPLI, or Precise Participant Location and Identification (network participation groups 5 and 6),
  • Surveillance (network participation group 7),
  • Command (Mission Management/Weapons Coordination) (network participation group 8),
  • (Aircraft) Control (network participation group 9),
  • Electronic Warfare & Coordination (network participation group 10).


Some examples of platforms currently using the Link 16 capability are:
  • Aircraft
    • F/A-18 Hornet
      F/A-18 Hornet
      The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to dogfight and attack ground targets . Designed by McDonnell Douglas and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter's YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and...

    • F-15 Eagle
      F-15 Eagle
      The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

    • F-16 Fighting Falcon
      F-16 Fighting Falcon
      The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force . Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since...

    • Eurofighter Typhoon
      Eurofighter Typhoon
      The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

    • Dassault Rafale
      Dassault Rafale
      The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine delta-wing multi-role jet fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. Introduced in 2000, the Rafale is being produced both for land-based use with the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations with the French Navy...

    • Dassault Mirage 2000D
    • Dassault Mirage 2000-5F
    • Saab Gripen
    • Panavia Tornado
      Panavia Tornado
      The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy...

    • E-2C Hawkeye
      E-2 Hawkeye
      The Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is an American all-weather, aircraft carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft. This twin-turboprop aircraft was designed and developed during the late 1950s and early 1960s by the Grumman Aircraft Company for the United States Navy as a replacement for the...

    • E-3 Sentry
      E-3 Sentry
      The Boeing E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system developed by Boeing as the prime contractor. Derived from the Boeing 707, it provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications, and is used by the United States Air Force , NATO, Royal Air Force , French Air Force...

    • MH-60S/R NavalHawk family helicopters
    • E-8 Joint STARS
      E-8 Joint STARS
      The Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System is a battle management and command and control aircraft of the United States Air Force...

    • EA-6B Prowler
    • EA-18G Growler
      EA-18G Growler
      The Boeing EA-18G Growler is an American carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft, a specialized version of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet. The EA-18G will replace the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers in service with the United States Navy. The Growler's electronic warfare capability is...

    • P-3C Orion
    • EP-3C Aries
    • Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint
    • Greek Embraer R-99A Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft
  • Ships
    • U.S. carrier battle group
      Carrier battle group
      A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, together composing the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy was the first to assemble a large number of carriers into a single...

    • French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91)
    • French, Spanish, Norwegian, Netherlands and German frigate
      A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

  • Missile defense
    • Arrow
    • Patriot ICC and Battery Command Post (BCP)
      MIM-104 Patriot
      The MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile system, the primary of its kind used by the United States Army and several allied nations. It is manufactured by the Raytheon Company of the United States. The Patriot System replaced the Nike Hercules system as the U.S. Army's primary High to Medium...

    • THAAD
      Terminal High Altitude Area Defense
      Terminal High Altitude Area Defense , formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is a United States Army system to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles in their terminal phase using a hit-to-kill approach. The missile carries no warhead but relies on the kinetic energy...

    • SHORAD
      Short Range Air Defense
      Short Range Air Defense is a term used to describe a group of anti-aircraft weapons and tactics that have to do with defense against low-altitude air threats, primarily helicopters and low-flying close air support aircraft such as the A-10 or MiG-27...

    • JTAGS
      Joint Tactical Ground Station
      The Joint Tactical Ground Station is the United States Army's element to United States Strategic Command's Theater Event System...

    • Joint Land Attack/Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensors (JLENS)
  • Command and Control
    • Joint Data Network

The U.S. Army is also integrating Link 16 into select command and control
Command and Control (military)
Command and control, or C2, in a military organization can be defined as the exercise of authority and direction by a properly designated commanding officer over assigned and attached forces in the accomplishment of the mission...

 elements of its UH-60 Black Hawk fleet , and intends to pursue future fielding to AH-64 Apache
AH-64 Apache
The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement, and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. The Apache was developed as Model 77 by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army's Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the...

 and other aviation assets.

The USAF will add Link 16 to its B-1 and B-52 bombers with the Common Link Integration Processing system. A key exception is the F-22 Raptor which can only receive but not transmit Link-16 data. According to the Air Force, transmitting data would give away its location.


Link 16 is intended to advance Tactical Data Links (TDLs) as the NATO standard for data link
Data link
In telecommunication a data link is the means of connecting one location to another for the purpose of transmitting and receiving information. It can also refer to a set of electronics assemblies, consisting of a transmitter and a receiver and the interconnecting data telecommunication circuit...

 information exchange. Link 16 equipment will be located in ground, airborne, and sea-based air defense platforms and selected fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

. The U.S. industry is now developing a new Link 16 SCA compliant radio MIDS-JTRS
Joint Tactical Radio System
The Joint Tactical Radio System is planned to be the next-generation voice-and-data radio used by the U.S. military in field operations after 2010...

 which currently is projected to implement nine various tactical waveforms, including Link 16.

Multifunctional Information Distribution System
Multifunctional Information Distribution System is the NATO name for the communication component of Link-16.One commonly used instantiation of an MIDS is the MIDS Low Volume Terminal which has been funded by the United States, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and developed by MIDSCO, a joint...

 program, which manage the development of the communication component for Link 16, is managed by the International Program Office located in San Diego
San Diego, California
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round...

, California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. In the United States, the lead Air Force command for the MIL-STD-6016 standard, plans, and requirements is the Air Force Global Cyberspace Integration Center at Langley AFB, with JTIDS program execution managed by the 653d Electronic Systems Wing
653d Electronic Systems Wing
The 653d Electronic Systems Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force located at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.-Mission:The 653d Electronic Systems Wing executes a $21 billion fiscal year defense plan budget with 1,300 personnel...

 at Hanscom AFB near Boston, Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

. The MIL-STD-6016 Standard configuration management
Configuration management
Configuration management is a field of management that focuses on establishing and maintaining consistency of a system or product's performance and its functional and physical attributes with its requirements, design, and operational information throughout its life.For information assurance, CM...

 custodian is the Defense Information Systems Agency
Defense Information Systems Agency
The Defense Information Systems Agency is a United States Department of Defense agency that provides information technology and communications support to the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, the military Services, and the Combatant Commands.As part of the Base Realignment and...


See also

  • Tactical Data Link The family of tactical data links
  • Global Cyberspace Integration Center
    Global Cyberspace Integration Center
    The Air Force Command and Control Integration Center is an Air Combat Command Direct Reporting Unit responsible for innovating, designing, developing, integrating, and sustaining command and control solutions...

     lead Air Force command for MIL-STD-6016 standard and plans/programs
  • 653d Electronic Systems Wing
    653d Electronic Systems Wing
    The 653d Electronic Systems Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force located at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.-Mission:The 653d Electronic Systems Wing executes a $21 billion fiscal year defense plan budget with 1,300 personnel...

    JTIDS program execution

General references

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