ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The first production unit of a two-way, high-bandwidth data link for the Apache helicopters to control unmanned aircraft has been delivered to the U.S. Army.
The Unmanned Aerial Systems Tactical Common Data Link Assembly Systems is made by Longbow LLC, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
"The delivery of the first UTA system to the U.S. Army is the successful culmination of a nearly six-year design and development program," said Mike Taylor, Longbow LLC president and director of Longbow programs in Lockheed Martin's Missiles and Fire Control business.
"The UTA provides Apache aircrews with increased situational awareness and net-centric interoperability significantly reducing sensor-to-shooter timelines."
The low-rate production UTAs will be used on the Army's Block III Apache and allows aircrew to operate an unmanned aerial system at long range and to receive real-time, high-definition streaming video on multi-function displays.
"The delivery of the first Apache Block III UAS control system … marks the next major capability advancement for the Apache, which continues to be the deciding factor on the battlefield," said Lt. Col. Dan Bailey, U.S. Army Apache Block III product manager.
"When fielded, the UTA capability will significantly enhance the game-changing perspective of the Apache."