What is Link 16?

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Editorial Team - everything RF

Jun 18, 2019

Link 16 is an encrypted, jam-resistant Tactical Data Link (TDL) network used by U.S. and NATO Allies to create situational awareness among dispersed battle elements by sharing information, over a common communication link. This enables the command and control centers to create Common Operating Pictures (COP), which allows friendly forces to electronically observe the battlespace, identify threats, and acquire targets.

Link 16 communications are used to transfer real-time combat data, voice communications, imagery, and relative navigation information in the battlefield. This network uses JTIDS-compatible communication terminals to transmit and receive data messages. Via Link 16 network, messages can be broadcasted simultaneously to as many users as needed. Link 16 is a nodeless network i.e., it does not depend on any one terminal to act as a node, instead all Link 16-capable terminals act as nodes.

This Tactical Data Link (TDL) network was developed by ViaSat Inc. and Data Link Solutions (DLS) LLC to improve interoperability and support joint operations of land, sea, and air forces.

The main application of Link 16 is as an air and missile defense command and control system. This network is being used by various countries for national air defense, linking their sea- and land-based vessels, ground-based sensors, and surface-to-air missile systems. This helps them to protect their airspace by identifying threats and neutralizing them.