Harris to modify Navy helicopter data link system

Harris Corp. will upgrade a helicopter data link communications system it is producing for the Navy under a $53 million contract modification.

Prime contractor Harris and its team partner BAE Systems Inc. are building the Ku-band Common Data Link Hawklink system for the Navy's Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helicopter. The aircraft is designed to provide battle-group protection and add significant capability during coastal, littoral and regional conflicts.

Hawklink is a high-speed digital data link that transmits tactical video, radar, acoustic and other sensor data from the helicopters to their host surface ships. During this three-year modification phase, Harris will oversee the production of field change kits that will be used to retrofit ships and provide radio terminal sets for the LAMPS helicopters.

Contract provisions also include integrated logistics support and analysis; sustaining engineering, training, non-recurring and recurring engineering changes; and technical, administrative and financial data.

With the ability to transmit more than 100 nautical miles at data rates that exceed 21 megabits per second, the CDL Hawklink will eliminate interference, improve fleet communications and bandwidth capability of the helicopters, and facilitate the transition to a network-centric architecture for fleet interoperability.

The CDL Hawklink program could exceed $350 million by 2015 if the Navy exercises all options to equip as many as 350 aircraft and ships, including Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers, Harris officials said.
The modification award is the continuation of a development effort that began in 1999 to prove the feasibility of using tactical common data links for the helicopters.

Harris, of Melbourne, Fla., ranks No. 13 on Washington Technology's 2008 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors. BAE Systems, of Rockville, Md., ranks No. 12.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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