United States Marine Corps successfully connects AH-1Z Viper helicopter and a ground station

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PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (KAMR/KCIT) — The United States Marine Corps. (USMC) has successfully demonstrated in flight testing on a two-way connection between the AH-1Z Viper helicopter and a ground station using new Link-16 software, according to news release from Bell Textron Inc.

Bell Textron Inc. (NYSE:TXT), manufactures the AH-1Z Viper and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE:NOC) developed the Link-16 system which is part of a roadmap that is designed to ensure the H-1 platform keeps its technologies edge and capabilities throughout service, the release explained.
“Bell is excited to help bring this capability to the USMC H-1 community,” said Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 vice president and program director. “The ability to participate in the modern and connected battlefield makes the aircraft more lethal and better-equipped to support Marines on the ground.”

Link-16 help the fully integrated AH-1Z to quickly obtain and share information from its sensors with other weapons systems using its digital format and is achieved through Northrop Grumman’s Link-16 package — which includes digital moving maps, new security architecture, and the Link-16 and Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) datalinks, according to the company.

 “Northrop Grumman’s Link-16 system will help U.S. Marines today, and well into the future, with critical technology that facilitates coordination, collaboration, and interoperability. By enabling the display and integration of Link-16 data with the H-1 system, pilots of the AH-1Z have greater situational awareness and enhanced survivability,” said James Conroy, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability, Northrop Grumman.

“This milestone also highlights our focus on ‘speed to fleet,’ due to the unprecedented time between demonstrating the concept and getting to first flight. Flexibility and adaptability, using next generation agile development practices, are the only ways to innovate and keep pace with changing mission needs,” Conroy said.

The release said that the USMC H-1 Light/Attack helicopter program (PMA-276), Bell, and Northrop Grumman collaborated to use Agile Development strategies to provide an under glass solution and begin design testing in 12 months.
Northrop Grumman’s Lead Technology Integration group developed a mission package for Link-16 which included a modern digital mapping solution for the H-1 platform while Bell’s H-1 program team provided the necessary vehicle analysis and modifications to incorporate the mission equipment throughout the existing integrated systems of the AH-1Z.

“Together, the teams are redefining what it means to rapidly field integrated solutions on existing fielded platforms to increase warfighter capabilities,’ the release stated.
PMA-276 program manager, Col. Vasilios Pappas, said “The H-1 has decades of battlefield experience, it has evolved to fight in numerous environments.”

“The integration of Link-16 aligns with this platforms’ ability to adapt to the ever-changing threat and meet the needs of current and future warfighters,” Pappas said.
The USMC has flight tests planned for the AH-1Z throughout the summer, which will be followed by flight testing of Link-16 on the UH-1Y Venom. The service anticipates AH-1Z initial fleet integration with Link 16 in 2022, the release said.

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