Navy helicopter gets data transmission upgrade

New digital interface offers Internet-equivalent connectivity

Lockheed Martin Corp. will enhance the data transmission capabilities of Navy MH-60R helicopters under a $14.7 million contract.

Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will integrate a digital messaging interface that will use a new Ku band tactical data link to boost the data flow from the MH-60R helicopter to the undersea and surface naval vessels it supports on missions, company officials said Dec. 8.

Lockheed Martin will work on the project with the Naval Air Systems and Naval Sea Systems commands.

The high-definition interface, designated Ship Air Upgrade 07000, will enable a ship or strike group to request specific data from the helicopter and simultaneously receive images and other types of messages, the officials said. The MH-60R and vessel crews will be able to publish and subscribe for information.

Over the next 30 months, Lockheed Martin will develop the software needed for the SAU 07000 integration, conduct ground and flight tests and support Navy tests at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., the officials said. The Navy has scheduled MH-60Rs equipped with the Ku-band capability for deployment as part of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group in 2012.

The new interface will position the MH-60 to meet future mission requirements, such as over-the-horizon communications relay and connectivity to the Defense Department’s Global Information Grid.

The MH-60R collects and processes voice, video, radar and acoustic sensor data to alert the Navy vessels it supports of undersea or surface movements and threats.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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