Bell Textron and Northrop Grumman integrate new data link into Viper.
The USMC has successfully 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, Bell Textron and Northrop Grumman announced on 7 June.
‘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,’ Viper OEM Bell and Link 16 developer Northrop Grumman stated.
Link 16 enables the AH-1Z to quickly obtain and share information from its sensors with the AIM-9 Sidewinder and other weapons systems using its onboard digital architecture, the two companies added.
The Northrop Grumman Link 16 package includes a new digital moving map, a new security architecture, and the Link 16 and Advanced Networking Wideband Waveform data links.
The USMC plans flight tests for the AH-1Z throughout Q3, to 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.
Mike Deslatte, Bell H-1 VP and programme director, said: ‘The ability to participate in the modern and connected battlefield makes the aircraft more lethal and better-equipped to support Marines on the ground.’