Feb 7, 2013
Saratoga Springs, NY

September 3rd, 2022 - Saturday (F-35 photo above by Kevin Burke - Stewart IAP, NY 2019 - see complete credit at end).

*In trying to understand the radio package in the ANG's F-35s, I went on an "interweb" rabbit hunt. Thinking that if one understands the radios in use, one can more effectively narrow the search for new frequencies. Unfortunately, "it seems" these aircraft can communicate with "anyone" "anywhere". Here's what I found: (some info is from 2022, some info from much earlier - please take it for what it's worth and I hope it can help).

F-35 COMMUNICATIONS (Generalized)

UHF/VHF Clear/Secure
VHF AM = 108-156 Mhz
VHF Lo-FM = 30-88 Mhz
VHF Hi-FM = 136-174 Mhz
UHF AM/FM = 225-400 Mhz
8.33 kHz Channelization
Suvival Radio/CSEL

F-35 built for Canada:

SATCOMM VOICE (used in Artic) (added in 2022 block)

When will the F-35 be capable of SATCOM?
SATCOM is currently planned to be included in the Block 4 of the F-35 follow-on development program, currently scheduled in the 2020 timeframe. Canadian F-35As are therefore currently forecasted to be equipped with BLOS communication in time for Canada’s declaration of Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

Why was the installation of SATCOM in the F-35 intentionally delayed?
Although originally intended to be included in earlier versions of the F-35, a conscious decision was made within the JSF Partnership to delay upgrading the F-35 with SATCOM until later in the program. The aim of this deferment was to await emerging satellite constellation/capability developments and the maturing of associated enabling technologies, and to thereby avoid the investment of funds into waning technologies/capabilities.

Can the F-35A communicate in the Arctic?
Yes, the F-35A will be fully capable of communicating in the Arctic

Recent reports concerning delays in the F-35’s SATCOM system has led to public misinformation, which has implied that a lack of SATCOM constitutes an inability to maintain communications in the Arctic. The F-35 is capable of multiple alternate forms of communication, all of which contribute to maintaining reliable communications in the Arctic...."

It has been published that: Northrop Grumman Radio Systems to provide next-generation CNI (communications, navigation and identification) avionics for F-35; package will include VHF/UHF radio, Have Quick I/II, SINCGARS/SIP, UHF SatCom, IFF/SIF transponder, ILS, MLS, ACLS, Tacan, intra-flight data link, Link 4A, Link 16/JTIDS and weapons data link."

Further: "The F-35 will have the most robust communications suite of any fighter aircraft built to date. The F-35 will be the first fighter to possess a satellite communications capability that integrates beyond line of sight communications throughout the spectrum of missions it is tasked to perform. "

So it sounds like, not only will the Lightning II's pilots be able to 'radio' over SATCOM, but their entire suite of avionics/sensors/systems will be able to utilize the same SATCOM capabilities.



(some info may be repeated due to copy & paste ~ from multiple sources on the interweb :>)

UHF/VHF transceiver(s
(at least 2 = "AUX" radio referenced by pilots which I believe means: AUX=AUXILARY RADIO)

is a secure frequency hopping system that protects UHF military communications. The system design uses an all-channel group of frequency synthesizers with keyboards and displays for data entry. An accurate clock for timed synchronization plus a microprocessor makes up the electronics. HQ is not compatible with the VHF-FM radios used by ground forces which operates on a different radio band and uses a different frequency hopping method. For this reason the F-35 also has a SINGCARS radio on board.

is a Combat Net Radio (CNR)that uses 25 kHz channels in the VHF FM band from 30 to 87.975 MHz with single-frequency as well as frequency hopping capability which hops at 111 times per second.

VMF 220D
is designed to “communicate with anything,” VMF MIL-STD-188-220 enables Combat-Net Radio (CNR) modems to interface to existing voice radios in military aircraft, manpacks, and mobile ground stations to transmit and receive digital data. MIL-STD-188/220, MILITARY STANDARD, INTEROPERABILITY STANDARD FOR DIGITAL MESSAGE TRANSFER DEVICE SUBSYSTEMS (07 MAY 1993).

Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) Interrogate/Transponder
IFF is an identification system designed for command and control. It enables interrogation systems to identify aircraft, vehicles or forces as friendly and to determine their bearing and range from the interrogator.

Link 16
Link 16 is a military tactical data exchange network and if part of the family of Tactical Data Links. This link allows the exchange of a tactical picture in near-real time. This protocol will also support text messages, imagery data and two channels of digital voice (2.4 kbit/s and/or 16 kbit/s in any combination).

The design is a TDMA-based secure and jam-proof high speed digital link in the 960-1,215 MHz RF band. This is a line-of-sight communication. Information is typically passed at data rates of either 31.6, 57.6, or 115.6 kbit/s.

The information is coded in J-series messages that are binary data words with well-defined meanings.

Joint Precision and Approach Landing System (JPALS)
JPALS provides advanced air traffic management, approach, and precision landing capability for military air operations. It is interoperable FAA, military, and international air navigation services with global military/civil interoperability.

The Multi function Advanced Data Link waveform is an advanced communications link that can send information securely between F-35s. In 2013 a successful flight test passed data between two F-35s which created a situational awareness picture on each of the F-35 cockpit displays.

Other functions on the aircraft are:

GUARD (radio),
Survival Radio,
JVMF/VMF (K-Series),
Voice messaging,
Voice Recognition,
Maintenance intercom,
and Voice synthesis.

Tactical Digital Information Link-J (TADIL-J)

This is a system of standardized “J” series messages which are known by NATO as Link 16. This protocol was designed as an improved data link to exchange near real-time (NRT) information. It is essentially a communication, navigation, and identification system supporting an information exchange between tactical command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) systems.

The radio transmission and reception part of this system is the Multi functional Information Distribution System (MIDS). These terminals use high capacity UHF, line of sight (LOS), frequency-hopping to provide secure and jam-resistant voice and digital data transmission and operate on a Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) protocol.

JVMF/VMF (K-Series)
Variable Message Format (VMF) is a communication protocol for communicating tactical military information. The VMF message body is composed of “K” Series messages.


Radar Altimeters are usually an all-solid-state 0 to 50,000+ ft. FM/CW radar altimeter system typically operating at a nominal frequency of 4.3 GHz. It consists of a receiver/transmitter, antennas and indicators with inherent low probability of intercept and anti-jam capability as well as conventional analog and digital outputs for aircraft avionic systems. They usually have a Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) achieved by control of the power output so that the transmitted power is the least amount required for signal acquisition and tracking. The system automatically adjusts the required transmitter power to maintain normal system operation over varying terrain, aircraft altitude and attitudes.

An FM/CW technology is usually used and can operate over a 100 MHz bandwidth providing inherent spread-spectrum capability which further reduces detect ability.


Interesting articles on the F-35:

U.S. Navy F-35C and U.S. Air Force F-35A Display at Same Airshow – Report And Interviews
July 4, 2022 Airshows, F-35, Military Aviation - Tom Demerly
Two F-35 Demo Teams Showcase and Contrast Roles and Capabilities of Joint Strike Fighter.

We don’t listen to any music while we’re actually flying because I’ve got earplugs in and because the airplane’s pretty loud in there.
We’re listening to about three radios up at any given time.
I’m either talking to who we call the air boss who’s running the air show.
I talk to my pilot on the ground, who’s called my safety officer.
And then I can talk to a war bird, a World War II or similar airplane that we fly with, as well.
So, I’ve got those frequencies up.

Link To Article:
U.S. Navy F-35C and U.S. Air Force F-35A Display at Same Airshow - Report And Interviews

Second-generation USAF fighter pilot Maj. Kristin 'Beo' Wolfe's aerobatic maneuvers
were featured in a new commercial paired with Top Gun: Maverick.
By Kimberly Johnson May 30, 2022
Link To Article:
Flying Fancy: USAF Fighter Pilot Demos F-35 Aerobatics - FLYING Magazine

F-35 AVIONICS (BBS posting - link below):


F-35 Lightning II:
Advanced electronics for stealth, sensors, and communications
November 13, 2015 - by Steve Taranovich
Link To Article:

F-35 comms capability (link below):


F/A-18 & F-35 avionics offerings discussed (link below):


*Can anyone "expand/explain":

1) The UHF/VHF VOICE radio (set) setups in the VT ANG F-35s?

2) How is the 8.33kHz Channelization used?

3) I realize the info presented is a "generalization" and not specific.

When I first referenced F-15 avionics, I found that "they too" were also suppose to have UHF/VHF radios (analog), and THEY DID... however, it was only F-15"Es" (air to ground mission, like the old SJ tail code versions, which I don't know if they're even still flying these). The "OTIS" F-15s (now at Barnes) (first A & B models, then C & D models acquired from RAF Lakenheath (USAFE) had UHF only and had the added: "BUTTON-00" which was "unique" to that radio suite as most other setups did not include this feature?

In addition to 01-20 in each radio = MAIN & AUX they had a (and probably still do?) "Button-00" primarily used in the "Aux Radio" for Air To Air (old: 289.0 Mhz). "Control" (ARTCC/NORAD, etc) would be in the MAIN. Quite often you'd hear pilot call out (in the MAIN) "Go Balls Aux". They'd maintain CONTROL in the "MAIN" radio, BUT.. pop up in their "Auxiliary Radio" wing to wing on B-00 (the hence the "balls" reference as the two zeros looked like "two balls"). Other mentions were "CLEAR" and "ACTIVE" which (I believe) were Have Quick References to: (as stated) CLEAR = clear analog comms & ACTIVE = encrypted comms (being HQ-II?).

*Corrections, comments & additions are ALWAYS welcome.

*Criticisms too~! I can take it Cinderella....

best, lar
saratoga springs, ny

*Note: F-35 photo (in article header and attached here is by Kevin Burke of Mass.

More of Kevin's photos (and his son "Nick's") can be found here:


Mar 30, 2014
You can also add SATURN to the list and it will be replacing HQ by 2024.

These fighters will be using less and less voice traffic. The amount of data that can be exchanged between these aircraft, in real time, greatly reduces the need for unnecessary voice traffic, whether it be secure or clear. However, ATC voice communication will still be required.


Mar 15, 2004
Nice article.
Would be interesting to hear about the phase-out history of HF radio in fighters.


Active Member
Premium Subscriber
Oct 6, 2021
I read somewhere that they have to be "activated" over the air as well before flight, and that is a limiting factor for export to other countries. Not sure if this is accurate, just something that sticks in my head.


Super Freq
Premium Subscriber
Nov 12, 2006
Council Bluffs, IA
I used to maintain a ground station version of the predecessor to the current TADIL-J/Link 16 system. It was the same equipment they had in the AWACS, but in a shelter on wheels. It was called the Adaptable Surface Interface Terminal (ASIT) or AN/TSC-110. We used it during Operation Deny Flight to share the radar picture from two of our radar sites with AWACS. Crazy stuff back then... it probably runs on a laptop now. :D