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U.S. Navy shipboard communications experts needed a digital datalink, an electronic connection for the exchange of information, to enable the naval helicopter to share its sensor information in real time with surface warships.
The solution was found from L-3 Communications shipboard terminal system. The technology enables surface ships and the MH-60R multi-mission helicopter to share information from radar, video, network, and acoustic data interfaces, and enables naval personnel to exploit aircraft sensor data in real time to extend situational awareness over the horizon. It has a range of about 100 nautical miles.
The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., made a $12.6 million order to L-3 to Communications to build and support the common datalink Hawklink AN/SRQ-4 systems for the MH-60R helicopter.
The rugged shipboard terminal is aboard Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers. It provides command and control, sensor data transfer, datalink operation, and built-in test, L-3 officials say.
The Ku-band communications system runs on an open-systems architecture with touch-screen interfaces. Its antenna offers auto-switching between open-loop pointing and closed-loop tracking, depending on the range between the helicopter and the ship.
The terminal is interoperable with the AN/SQQ-89 warship undersea warfare combat system and shipboard navigation sensors.
The system can also work with the Fire Scout UAV, the P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, and the P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.