Immediately following the TACLink project is TACMAN—or Tactical Mandates—which features the Pentagon’s mandatory Mode 5 Identification, Friend or Foe upgrade for both the interrogation and transmission functions. The upgrade also features advanced combat identification and electronic protection features, McIntyre said.
“That will follow in 2022, so you see we kinda got an bang, bang right after TACLink-16 with TACMAN,” McIntyre said.
Another piece of good news for Raptor pilots—which is enabled by OMS—is that the F-22 will finally receive a helmet–mounted cueing systems (HMCS) to exploit the outer edges of the AIM-9X weapons employment zone. Development and integration of the HMCS are scheduled to start next year in 2018. The new system will be fielded in 2021 if all goes as planned. The Air Force has not picked which HMCS it will choose yet, but there should be down selection in the next year or so, McIntyre said.
“The key enabler is the OMS,” McIntyre said.
With the addition of the HMCS, the Raptor will almost be the aircraft that was originally promised to the Air Force when the Advanced Tactical Fighter program was awarded to Lockheed so many years ago.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.