New system to boost pilots’ awareness

Matrix technology connects all aircraft flying over the battlefield.

March 1, 2010 06:35
2 minute read.
The Matrix system, which greatly improves pilots'

f-16 figher jet AJ 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

For the Israeli Air Force, Matrix is not just the simulated reality depicted in the 1999 Hollywood film starring Keanu Reeves.

For the IAF, Matrix is the name of a tactical network system that improves operational awareness for pilots and enables them, for example, to fire missiles at targets that other fighter jets have locked on to.

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The system, developed by the IAF in conjunction with local defense industries, basically serves, according to a top officer, as an “internet server” that connects all of the force’s aircrafts operating over a specific battlefield and provides pilots with “improved situational awareness.”

The systems have already been installed in the IAF’s F-15 and F-16 fighter jets and is now being expanded to transport helicopters and cargo planes.

“Every plane will be able to see a full picture of the sky,” the top IAF officer explained on Sunday. “It will enable a pilot with the touch of a button to see all friendly aircraft and then with another touch of a button to see all non-friendly aircraft.”

This viewing range is made possible by connecting all of the aircrafts’ various sensors and radars together to create a single picture of a specific area of operation. Such technology vastly improves the IAF’s ability in dogfights against enemy air forces.

The system, constantly undergoing upgrades, is slated to work together with the Ground Forces Command’s Tzayad digital command and control system, which provides the same picture but of ground forces.

“Ultimately, pilots will be able to see a specific infantry company operating on the ground, who they are, what they are doing,” the officer said.

In the meantime, the system already provides impressive capabilities and enables pilots to fire at targets that other IAF aircrafts are locked onto.

“This can give us the upper hand in dogfights,” the officer explained. “The enemy aircraft knows which plane has locked onto it and therefore tries to outmaneuver it and as a result expects another fighter jet to fire the missile.”

The system also enables pilots to see which munitions other aircrafts are carrying, providing squadron leaders with the ability to more effectively utilize the aircraft at the pilot’s disposal.

The United States army uses the Link 16 tactical data network, which is shared by most NATO members. Like the IAF’s Matrix, the Link 16 takes data from multiple platforms and integrates them on one screen.

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