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Northrop Grumman Partners With US Navy To Advance Rotorcraft Development

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by Staff Writers
Woodland Hills CA (SPX) Oct 01, 2010
Northrop Grumman has partnered with the U.S. Naval Aviation Center for Rotorcraft Advancement (NACRA) to provide its Digital Avionics Suite technology for retrofitting NACRA's UH-1N helicopter as an avionics test bed for future rotary wing hardware and software developments.

Northrop Grumman is supplying NACRA with a stand-alone Digital Avionics Suite and integration support for installing the system in the back of a UH-1N helicopter that has been retired from active service by the U.S. Navy. The Digital Avionics Suite is half of the system currently installed on the AH-1Z helicopter, and will allow test integration with minimal changes to the systems avionics or the aircraft.

The Digital Avionics Suite aboard the retrofitted UH-1N helicopter will include a Northrop Grumman mission computer that allows for easy system upgrades as new technology is developed. The AH-1Z mission computer will power the glass cockpit and integrate the components of the Digital Avionics Suite.

Northrop Grumman will also supply an LN-251 embedded global positioning system/fiber-optic inertial navigation system to provide precise own ship positioning information for the digital system in the back of the helicopter.

The Digital Avionics Suite also includes two 10.4" multi-functional displays, the same as those used by the U.S. Marine Corps on the AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters, which allow analysis of aircrew situational awareness by making critical mission data available to the flight test engineers.

Once installation is complete, NACRA will utilize the retrofitted helicopter as an avionics test bed to develop and test new rotorcraft mission hardware and software.

"Northrop Grumman's Digital Avionics Suite is a perfect fit for NACRA's needs," said Ike Song, vice president of Situational Awareness Systems at Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems Division.

"In addition to providing the modern avionics needed to continue rotorcraft advancement, our open architecture solution is ideally suited to allow for hardware and software upgrades which can then be tested under operational conditions."

Based at Patuxent River, Md., NACRA was mandated by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2005 and is charged with addressing and improving communication and coordination across the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps rotorcraft community.

NACRA cross-platform initiatives include a common program roadmapping process and cross-platform leveraged efforts addressing condition-based maintenance and operations in degraded visual environments.

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