Marines test Northrop’s tactical data link to Bell attack helicopter
The US Marine Corps has completed a flight test of an AH-1Z Viper helicopter, built by Textron’s Bell subsidiary, with a tactical data link system manufactured by Northrop Grumman to demonstrate two-way communications between the aircraft and a ground terminal.
For the demonstration, the partnership outfitted AH-1Z with the Link-16 mission package consisting of a mobile digital card, Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform data links and security architecture, Textron said Tuesday.
Link-16 has a digital architecture designed to collect and transmit data from sensors to other weapon systems.
James Conroy, vice president of navigation, targeting and survivability at Northrop, said the company developed the system to support collaboration, interoperability and coordination in military operations.
The USMC plans to further test the AH-1Z this summer and expects the communications system to be integrated into the fleet next year. The service intends to conduct a demonstration of the UH-1Y Venom utility helicopter with Link-16 after the current flight tests are completed.
Bell, Northrop, and the USMC’s H-1 Light / Attack Helicopter program office completed the digital interoperability suite in 12 months using agile development approaches.