Apache Block III controls a Gray Eagle UAV demonstrating advanced Manned-Unmanned Operations

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Photo: Lockheed Martin

An aH-64D Apache Block III equipped with the new Unmanned Aerial Systems Tactical Common Data Link Assembly (UTA) recently controlled an unmanned vehicle, while both were in flight. This marks the first time an unmanned vehicle has been controlled from the cockpit of an Apache, a significant accomplishment in manned-unmanned teaming.

During flight tests, the UTA controlled the payload and flight path of a Gray Eagle (MQ-1C) while both the Apache and unmanned aircraft system (UAS) were airborne.

Photo: Lockheed Martin

“This is a true game-changing capability that the Block III will bring to the warfighter.” said Lt. Col. Bailey, U.S. Army Apache Block III product manager. UTA enhances situational awareness between Apache pilots, ground commanders and the UAS to create a true net-centric battlespace.

Photo: Lockheed Martin

The LONGBOW UTA is a two-way, high-bandwidth data link for Apache aircrews that allows sensor and flight path control of the 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 into the Block III Apache mission computer. The U.S. Army’s LONGBOW system consists of either a fire control radar or the new UTA, a fire-and-forget radar frequency HELLFIRE millimeter wave-guided missile, and an all-digital M299 launcher for the AH-64D Apache helicopter. The LONGBOW UTA will be fielded on the Apache Block III aircraft beginning in 2012.

The UTA was developed by Longbow, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.