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Lockheed Martin conducts F-35 experiment with ADF

written by Adam Thorn | September 30, 2021

Two FA-18AB Hornet aircraft conduct a flypast over the Townsville Strand in Townsville, Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021. (Lauren Larking Defence)

Lockheed Martin has revealed it used the recent Talisman Sabre training exercise in Australia to trial sending sensor data between an F-35 and other aircraft platforms around the world in real-time.

The planemaker said the F-35 in Texas sent the information via its virtual weapons system to a command base in Honolulu, Hawaii and then onto the ADF.

Talisman Sabre is Australia’s largest bilateral defence exercise with the US and ran over three weeks in July this year.

The sharing of data demonstration aimed to support strategic objectives outlined in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which includes the use of large-scale exercises to pursue innovative experimentation in a bid to bolster joint all-domain information sharing capabilities.

The F-35 is billed as the only fighter jet with the ability to reach into austere environments to provide critical real-time information to allied partners.

The sharing of real-time data during Talisman Sabre 2021 (TS21) was the second time Lockheed Martin used the multinational exercise to test cutting-edge capability.

TS19 involved experimentation to enhance kill webs — a multitude of sensors designed to collect, prioritise, process, and share data, for fusion into a continuously updated display of information for joint forces.


Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation F-35 fighter aircraft as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.

The F-35A – the variant chosen by the RAAF – will have a projected life of 30 years in service and will also be based at RAAF Base Williamtown. Australia took delivery of three new F-35s in March, taking its current fleet to 33.

In June, Australian Aviation reported how two F-35s took to the skies with a full complement of weapons for the first time.


The landmark moment came as the pair were taking part in Exercise Arnhem Thunder 21 from RAAF Base Darwin.

In addition to their internal payload, the F-35s departed with laser-guided GBU-12 bombs attached to their under-wing pylons.

The bombs were dropped on ground-based targets at the Delamere Air Weapons Range, located about 120 kilometres south of Katherine.

Comment (1)

  • Craigy


    In other news, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency has made a determination to approve the purchase of one EA-18G Growler by Australia to replace the one lost at Nellis AFB

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