The US Marine Corps Successfully Completes the First Flight of AH-1Z Helicopter with Link-16

The United States Marine Corps (USMC) successfully demonstrated in-flight testing of a two-way connection between the AH-1Z Viper helicopter and a ground station using the new Link-16 hardware and software. While the Bell Textron Inc. manufactured the helicopters, the Northrop Grumman Corporation developed the Link-16 system. Link-16 is part of a defined road map of planned improvements designed to ensure the H-1 platform maintains its technological edge and combat capability throughout its service life.

Mike Deslatte, the vice president of Bell H-1 and program director, stated that the strength to engage in the modern and connected battlefield makes the aircraft more deadly and better-equipped to aid Marines on the soil.
Unlike other helicopters, Link-16 enables the AH-1Z to quickly obtain and share information from its sensors with other weapons systems using its onboard digital architecture. Thanks to its fully integrated anti-air capability and AIM-9 Sidewinder. The Northrop Grumman’s Link-16 package accomplishes the task, using a new digital moving map, a new security architecture, and the Link-16 and Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) datalinks.

James Conroy, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability at Northrop Grumman(NG), commented that Link-16 would help the Marines with critical technology that facilitates coordination, collaboration, and interoperability. Thus, enabling the pilots to have greater situational awareness and enhanced survivability.

Northrop Grumman’s Lead Technology Integration group rapidly architected and integrated a mission package for Link-16, including a modern digital mapping solution. Also, 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 partners redefined rapid field integrated solutions on existing fielded platforms to increase warfighter capabilities.

The USMC has flight tests planned for the AH-1Z this summer, anticipating initial fleet integration in 2022, followed by the UH-1Y Venom.

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