It uses Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) to provide multiple, simultaneous communication paths through different nets. Considered the standard by which other systems are measured for secure, airborne situational awareness, Link 16 has been credited by the U.S. Air Force as a key factor for saving lives in multiple theaters due to the increased situational awareness the system provides.
In contrast to other communications link waveforms, Link 16 improves security, jam resistance, and situational awareness, while also increasing data throughput and the capacity of information exchanged. In addition, Link 16 provides secure voice capability, relative navigation capability, and precise participant location and identification.
Link 16 data is transmitted via Link 16 terminals found in a range of platforms, including aircraft, surface ships, ground vehicles, missile defense systems, networked weapons, and command and control networks. These terminals can operate Link 16 capabilities exclusively or can combine Link 16 functions with other advanced military waveforms. To assure continuous secure and uninterrupted communications, compulsory Link 16 protocol updates are implemented as needed across the network, with system sunset dates pre-announced to all network participants so they can update their various platforms' equipment and procedures effectively.
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