The U.S. Marine Corps has completed a flight test of an AH-1Z Viper helicopter, built by Textron’s Bell subsidiary, with a Northrop Grumman-made tactical data link system to demonstrate two-way communications between the aircraft and a ground terminal.
For the demonstration, the partnership equipped AH-1Z with the Link-16 mission package comprised of a digital moving map, Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform datalinks and a security architecture, Textron said Tuesday.
Link-16 has a digital architecture designed to collect and transmit sensor data to other weapons systems.
James Conroy, vice president for navigation, targeting and survivability at Northrop, said the company developed the system to support collaboration, interoperability and coordination in military operations.
USMC plans to further test 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 once the ongoing flight tests are completed.
Bell, Northrop and USMC’s H-1 Light/Attack Helicopter program office completed the digital interoperability suite within a 12-month period through agile development approaches.