Navy asks Northrop Grumman to provide network data link for Marine Corps attack and service helicopters


NAS PATUXENT RIVER, Maryland – The avionics experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. will provide U.S. Marine Corps gunship helicopters with additional sensor networking capability in a $ 24.3 million order announced late last month.

Officials from US Naval Air Systems Command at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Ask Northrop Grumman Mission Systems segment in Woodland Hills, Calif. For 25 production Link 16 B kits, three Link 16 B kits from spare and two Link 16 B flight training device kits for the UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters.

Link 16 is a military tactical data link network used by the US military and its NATO allies that allows military aircraft, ships and ground forces to exchange their tactical image in near real time. Link 16 also supports the exchange of text, images and digital voice messages.

The AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter based on the AH-1W SuperCobra that features a four-bladed rotor system, improved drivetrain, and a new target sighting system. It improved avionics, weapons, and electro-optical sensors designed to find long-range targets and attack them with precision weapons.

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The UH-1Y Venom helicopter – also known as the Super Huey – is a mid-size twin-engine utility helicopter designed to replace the US Marine Corps UH-1N Twin Huey light utility helicopters, first introduced in the early 1970s.

Link 16 is based on Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) communication technology.

This frequency range limits information exchange directly to line-of-sight distances, although satellite communications (SATCOM) and ad-hoc protocols can transmit Link 16 data via long-distance protocols such as TCP / IP using MIL-STD 3011 (JREAP) or STANAG 5602 (SIMPLES). Information typically travels at rates of 31.6, 57.6, or 115.2 kilobits per second.

The AH-1Z and UH-1Y are part of the Marine Corps H-1 upgrade program to build new helicopters, as well as to rebuild old AH-1W SuperCobra attack helicopters and UH-1N Twin utility helicopters Huey with cutting edge designs. The program aims to upgrade AH-1W to AH-1Z and UH-1N to UH-1Y.

Related: Navy Works With Northrop Grumman To Add Link 16 Tactical Networking Capability To MQ-8C Unmanned Helicopter

The AH-1Z can carry a payload of 5,764 pounds, can fly up to 222 knots, has a range of 370 nautical miles and can fly up to 20,000 feet. It has a two-person crew and carries a 20-millimeter Gatling gun and can fire 70-millimeter Hydra rockets, AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, and AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles.

The UH-1Y can carry a payload of 6,660 pounds, including up to 10 impact-resistant passenger seats and six liters or equivalent cargo. It has a range of 260 nautical miles and can fly up to 20,000 feet. It can fly with one or two pilots, has two external stations for Hydra 70 or APKWS II 70 mm rockets, and has two hitch mounts for M240D machine guns or Gatling pistols.

On this order, Northrop Grumman will perform work in Woodland Hills and San Diego, Calif., And is expected to be completed by June 2024. For more information, contact Northrop Grumman Mission Systems online at, or Naval Air Systems Command at