Royal Thai Air Force Planning An Extension of Tactical Data Link Coverage
Speaking during the Defence and Security exhibition being held in Bangkok between 6th and 11th November, officials from RV Connex told MONS that the company is planning to roll out the T-Link Tactical Data Link (TDL) used by the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) across an increasing number of its platforms in the coming years.
The very high frequency/ultra high frequency (30 megahertz to three gigahertz) T-Link TDL is used to exchange track and tactical information between RTAF airborne platforms, notably the air force’s Saab JAS-39C/D Gripen fighters and its Saab 340 Erieye airborne early warning aircraft. It is analogous to the Link-16 TDL used throughout NATO and allied nations, although has some notable differences in capability; the exact nature of which are classified. That said, the company noted that, while a Link-16 network can typically be required to host hundreds of nodes, particularly during air operations involving large numbers of platforms, a T-Link network would typically host around 20 nodes. Company officials continued that, over the next decade, the RTAF plans to install the datalink across the entirety of its fleet, although this will depend on available budget.
Sources close to the RTAF told MONS during the exhibition that the T-Link could be installed onboard the RTAF’s Northrop Grumman F-5E fighters by the end of 2018. Meanwhile, officials from RV Connex added that the datalink is largely “radio agnostic” and can equip a diverse array of secure airborne radios.