The US Marine Corps’ (USMC) Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 has demonstrated the first H-1 mixed fleet Link 16 (L16) flight.

The test was conducted at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in November last year.

During the test, the marines used the new Link 16 software to demonstrate the first two-way connection between an AH-1Z Viper, a UH-1Y Venom aircraft and a portable ground station.

The digital interoperability (DI) suite consists of Link 16 and advanced networking wideband waveform data links, which allows to share information across multiple networks.

The mixed-section flight test was conducted to simulate an operational scenario, which included casualty evacuation and close air support missions.

Additionally, the event involved inserting ground troops in an objective area from where they communicated over the ANW2 network.

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USMC HX-21 H-1 project officer and the first flight pilot major Jason Grimes said: “The ground troops were able to receive information from the aircraft on their tablets.

“This event validated the ability to insert troops in an objective area, immediately connect to their radio and provide constant communication.”

With the ANW2 network, all the participants connected to the encrypted network received fast and secure communication.

The test validated the efficiency of this mode of communication and demonstrated its additional warfighting capabilities.

The DI team will evaluate the final software update in spring this year, before the evaluation of DI suite by operational test squadron.

The USMC will continue to test the DI suite throughout the summer, with L16 fleet integration expected by early next year.

The DI suite comes under a defined road map of planned enhancements to ensure technological edge and combat capability of H-1 platform is maintained throughout its service life.