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Apache Block III UAS Data Link Marks Successful First Flight

28th January 2009 - 20:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


The Longbow Limited Liability Company, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman recently marked the successful first powered flight of the Longbow Unmanned Aerial Systems Tactical Common Data Link Assembly (UTA) aboard the AH-64D Apache Block III attack helicopter.

The Longbow UTA is a two-way, high-bandwidth data link for Apache aircrews that allows sensor and flight path control of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). UTA-equipped Apaches enable aircrews to exercise control of UAS at long ranges and receive real-time, high-definition streaming video on their multi-function displays. The UTA is fully integrated with the Apache Arrowhead Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor system to provide the highest quality day or night imagery to other air and ground platforms.

During testing, the Longbow UTA successfully acquired and tracked an Unmanned Little Bird aircraft in flight. The system allowed aircrews to receive and display video transmitted from the UAS.

The Longbow UTA builds on the proven Apache Video from UAS for Interoperability Teaming - Level 2 (VUIT-2) technology. Apache VUIT-2, developed by Lockheed Martin, is a federated system that offers passive viewing of UAS video. VUIT-2 is currently deployed with U.S. forces in theater.

"This technology is on the leading edge of manned-unmanned teaming," said Jerry Garman, Longbow LLC president and director of Longbow programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "The net-centric battlefield demands that we continue to provide our Warfighters with unrivaled capabilities, and VUIT-2 and UTA are doing just that."

The Longbow system, as currently configured by the U.S. Army, consists of either a fire control radar or a UTA, a fire-and-forget radar frequency HELLFIRE millimeter wave-guided missile, and an all-digital M299 launcher for the AH-64 Apache helicopter. The Longbow UTA will be fielded on the Apache Block III aircraft beginning in 2012.


The Shephard News Team


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