the future of agile data capture and ACE capability > Air Combat Command > Article display

The 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron reached important milestones in the development and testing of its Multi-Use Secure Network and Tactical Ground Station (MUSTANG) through its recent participation in PACIFIC EDGE 22.

During the exercise, MUSTANGS demonstrated its ability to process, select, and send F-35 data across the horizon to a reprogramming lab, all in a matter of minutes.

As part of the Crowd-Sourced Flight Data (CSFD) program, MUSTANGS is a mobile vehicle that can offload, process, and offload critical data from Quick Reaction Instrumentation Package (QRIP)-equipped aircraft without the need for a fixed operational test infrastructure.

“Right now, the MUSTANGS are for the testing community, but they have massive operational implications,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Malafa, 59th TES commander. “Our intention is to reduce risk and show CAF the value of obtaining and communicating data from the operational edge.”

Before MUSTANGS, data collected at the edge had to be downloaded to a secure facility, transferred to a hard drive or disk, and hand-delivered to a data customer; an outdated process that is cumbersome and too slow for the rapidly changing operating environment.

However, with MUSTANGS, the 59th TES has shown that data processing is flexible, reliable, deployable, and most importantly, immediate.

“A modern and contested environment is constantly changing,” Malafa said. “The faster and more accurate they are made available to decision makers, the more likely it is that the combatant will triumph over the adversary.”

TES 59 looks to generate another MUSTANGS milestone during the upcoming exercise, NORTHERN EDGE 23. The team plans to use the F-35s participating in the exercise to find a unique waveform in the operating environment, transfer that data to MUSTANGS, heal the data, and make it available to the United States Reprogramming Laboratory (USRL), which is managed by the 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The 513th EWS is responsible for producing Mission Data Files (MDFs) for all US F-35s, including those flown by the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, making them the aircraft lethal combat weapons with greater survivability.

Once the 513th EWS receives the data, it analyzes it and acts to reprogram an updated MDF, sends it to the MUSTANG and reloads it into the F-35s before their next flight. This process typically takes days to weeks and has never before been accomplished in a matter of hours.

“Data evolutions like MUSTANGS turn cutting-edge data into information quickly, which is exactly the kind of innovation we need to stay ahead in the modern era of warfare,” Malafa said. “There is no doubt that those who can convey information at the speed of relevance will win.”

For more information, contact 1st Lt. Lindsey Heflin, 53rd Wing Public Affairs Advisor at 850-598-3283 or [email protected]

The 53rd Wing hones lethality by testing new operational capabilities and evaluating field capabilities. They bring the future faster by responding to combatant demands for integrated capabilities from multiple domains.