Link 16 constitutes the basic NATO data exchange system which is also used by other United States of America allies. Polish Link 16 terminals have been established in Gryfice, Chruściel, Suwałki, Poznan, Łask, Roskosz, Cracow and Zamość. These points have all been handed-off to the Armed Forces Operational Command, which is to make it possible to utilize the system in an ongoing manner, during the operational activities undertaken by the Armed Forces – as Col. Jacek Zabłotny from the General Command of the Armed Forces stated.
Currently, elements of the Link 16 system are being acquired for the Special Forces and for the new Navy units. The system is also going to be utilized by the multi-role helicopters. F-16 C/D Block 52+ fighters, which are being currently used by the Polish Air Force, already feature the elements required to be included in the newly implemented communications network.
Implementation of the Link 16 system made it possible to achieve full capabilities within the scope of data exchange involving the AWACS early warning platforms. This data is going to be then transferred from the national systems to the integrated NATO NATINAMDS defence system. Secondly, the Polish air defence system is going to be fully interoperable with the NATO combat platforms and systems.
Link 16 is not the only tactical data transmission system utilized by the Polish Armed Forces. The Navy uses, inter alia, the Link 11 system. This system is currently being expanded, and the expansion programme also involves the Polish Air Force. The whole initiative is being realized within the scope of one of the NATO Capability Packages. Representatives of the Management Board of Command and Communications Support of the Armed Forces Inspectorate of the General Command of the Armed Forces have already started the process, the aim of which is to involve Poland in the relevant programme. This programme’s goal is to develop and implement the Link 22 system which would, prospectively, replace the Link 11 network – its older counterpart – as Col. Zabłotny reports.