Tactical common data link for UAVs

Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:18 AM
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HERNDON, Va., Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army's MQ-5B Hunter unmanned aerial ISR vehicles will be reset by Northrop Grumman from C-Band communications to a tactical common data link.

The work comes under two contractor logistics support contract modifications worth $91.2 million. Each features a one-year performance period.

Northrop Grumman, maker of the UAV, said it will reset current C-Band Hunter MQ-5B systems with TCDL technology, which will give aircraft the ability to utilize the MQ-5B's sensors. The reset will involve ground stations and data terminals as well as the UAVs.

The TCDL innovation will also be the foundation for interoperability between other unmanned aerial vehicles operated by the military and ground stations.

"With additional Hunters fielded with TCDL, our nation's warfighters are further equipped with greater bandwidth and encryption, safeguarding vital information," said Kevin Goates, director, Northrop Grumman Technical Services' Unmanned Systems Sustainment Center.

The MQ-5B Hunter is a medium-altitude vehicle with a multi-mission optronic payload, a 15-hour mission capability and an automated takeoff and landing capability. It is deployed in Southwest Asia.

"The Hunter was critical to development of numerous advanced manned and unmanned teaming concepts while attached to combat aviation brigades in support of operations in Iraq," said Goates. "Most importantly, it saved, and will continue to save, the lives of countless soldiers and civilians as it plays a vital role in overcoming the threat of improvised explosive devices."

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