The strongest link: extending Link 16 to a new audience seeking a common voice

By Giles Ebbutt, Jane’s International Defence Review – April 14, 2009

The Link 16 tactical datalink is a widely used and trusted waveform, but has a number of weaknesses.… Currently, only a limited number of L16 nets can be operated simultaneously in a tactical area – typically one or two out of a theoretically possible 128. One reason for this is that the single channel analogue synthesisers in the network control hardware need to be replaced to handle multiple high-speed hopping L16 signals. With sponsorship from the US Office of Naval Research, Hypres is developing an all-digital L16 receiver, which can provide a multinet capability and would therefore improve the capability of network management systems. With the use of its niobium chip, Hypres has developed analogue/digital converters equipped with a “digital dehopping” capability that eliminates the need for the high-speed hopping analogue synthesisers currently used in all L16 terminals, including MIDS and MIDS-JTRS, thereby achieving considerable improvement in the ability of the receiver to track the hopping signal. “We can detect anything that’s operating in that band, digitise and process it. That way, one of our receivers can replace any number of analogue receivers,” Dick Hitt, Hypres chief executive officer tells Jane’s. “This means that a single network controller could now control up to 10 nets, which greatly increases the flexibility of the network architecture with a smaller hardware suite, making concurrent multinetting a practical proposition.”

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