Lockheed Martin has completed flight demonstrations of Mobile Commander’s Associate (MCA), that will enable U.S. Army command and control helicopters to form and manage teams of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and manned strike aircraft.
MCA integrates key functionality required for manned / unmanned teaming: connectivity to multiple digital radio links to provide simultaneous command and control of UAVs and communicate with ground and manned aerial forces; decision-aiding technology to monitor the UAV team’s flight activity with minimal human input; and fusion of ground and airborne sensor data so as to build a situational picture of the evolving battlefield.
With the MCA system installed aboard an UH-60 Black Hawk Airborne Command and Control (A2C2S) helicopter, Lockheed Martin demonstrated control of a Hunter UAV and its imaging sensors across a Tactical Common Data Link; exchanged position reports, tracks and engagement messages with an F/A-18 aircraft via Link 16 data link; and shared targeting data with a Longbow Apache attack helicopter via an Improved Data Modem communications connection. The airborne battle commander used KineMap™ digital map software to monitor the evolving tactical situational awareness picture.
Lockheed Martin developed the MCA system as part of a research and development program with the Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD). The AATD sponsored the demonstration flights aboard the A2C2S helicopter as part of the Hunter Stand-off Killer Team Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration at Fort Huachuca, AZ and Fort Hood, TX. The MCA system has now entered an extended evaluation period with the Army’s 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat) based at Fort Hood to determine operational applicability for the warfighter.
“These integrated capabilities are important because they give airborne commanders control of UAVs that can fly reconnaissance missions and provide targeting information to manned attack aircraft,” said Michele Evans, vice president for Aircraft Systems at Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego. “As these teaming technologies mature, joint forces will significantly reduce the risk to manned aircraft and the timeline to find and engage targets.”