The United States Marine Corps (USMC) has demonstrated in flight testing a two-way connection between the AH-1Z Viper helicopter and a ground station using new Link-16 hardware and software.
Link-16 enables the AH-1Z—unlike any other helicopter in the world with its integrated anti-air capability and AIM-9 Sidewinder -- to quickly obtain and share information from its sensors with other weapons systems using its onboard digital architecture.
This is accomplished through Northrop Grumman’s Link-16 package, which includes a new digital moving map, a new security architecture, and the Link-16 and Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform (ANW2) datalinks.
Bell Textron which manufactures the AH-1Z Viper and Northrop Grumman have 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.
“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.
In a collaboration between the USMC H-1 Light/Attack Helicopter program (PMA-276), Bell, and Northrop Grumman, the team leveraged commercial best practices of Agile Development methodologies. This strategy provided an under glass solution from concept requirements to vehicle design testing in 12 months.
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.