Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions
Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division, a trusted supplier of tactical data link (TDL) software and hardware solutions, recently announced that it supported General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ (GA-ASI) recent demonstration of the first successful exchange of Link 16 TDL data over Global Command and Control System – Maritime (GCCS-M) from an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to U.S. Navy surface ships.
The demo took place during U.S. Pacific Fleet’s (PACFLT) Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem ‘21 (UxS IBP 21) in San Diego, California. In support of the demo, Curtiss-Wright performed rapid integration of its proven TCG LinkPRO® TDL processing software for the GA-ASI MQ-9A Block 5 UAS. During UxS IBP, the UAS acted as a surrogate for the MQ-9B Sea-Guardian, providing Link 16 data communications capability both in the air and on the ground.
“This was the first UAS application in a Navy exercise for the proven capabilities of LinkPRO software and enabled us to highlight our rapid integration capabilities," said Chris Wiltsey, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions. "We look forward to growing opportunities to support unmanned aerial platforms with our high-fidelity TDL processing engine.”
During the UxS IBP 21 exercise, General Atomics was able to demonstrate the following TDL capabilities for the MQ-9 UAS using LinkPRO software:
Operated as the Link 16 Network Time Reference. The MQ-9’s long loiter time and advantaged position of elevation allowed it to hold the network together and eliminate communication loss and fragmented networks.
Provided buoy locations, subsurface contacts, and subsurface tracks to be detected and shared with P-8s and the entire network.
Provided on-call buoy drops for key tactical situations and shared the buoy data over Link 16.
Propagated surface tracks from the MQ-9’s internal maritime radar capability to Link 16.
Shared track management information with other network participants as they on-boarded and off-boarded the mission.
MQ-9’s Link 16 datalink operators were able to perform their function from the safety of ground-based locations.
The turboprop-powered, multi-mission MQ-9A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) was first flown in 2001. MQ-9A has an endurance of over 27 hours, speeds of 240 KTAS, can operate up to 50,000 feet, and has a 3,850 pound (1746 kilogram) payload capacity that includes 3,000 pounds (1361 kilograms) of external stores. The aircraft provides a long-endurance, persistent surveillance/strike capability for the warfighter.
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