On 20, 21 January AEC Skyline’s modified Learjet 36A platform supported a first series of trials linked to the ongoing Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) of the Dutch Defense Helicopter Command’s Block 2 upgraded Boeing AH-64D Apache attack helicopter.
Operating over Low Flying Area 7 Veluwe during the trials, the L3 Wescam MX-10 EO/IR sensor pod equipped Learjet aircraft acted as a surrogate Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, enabling the helicopter command’s attack helicopter unit to pursue its MUM-T objectives.
They include overall familiarisation, setup and troubleshooting with the MUM-T system that is supported by the Block 2 AH-64D’s on board L3 Harris ROVER 6 five band line of sight video transceiver capability (UHF/L/S/C/Ku band). On both days the Learjet’s on board Vortex digital duplex multi band datalink, another L3 Harris product, demonstrated it has a high degree of connectivity with ROVER 6, even at long ranges. With the help of the AEC Skyline team specific waveforms supported by ROVER 6 and different data rates are tested during a series of trials.
Subsequent flying saw the Learjet being used for target handovers and in support of the helicopters’ attack profiles with imagery generated by the MX-10 sensor being presented to participating helicopter crews on their multipurpose displays well before reaching their engagement area. Level 2 MUM-T interoperability was thus achieved meaning the direct receipt of data and full motion video from a (surrogate) UAS by a manned helicopter.
These trials pave the way for the advent of the new AH-64E version of the Apache attack helicopter which is destined to enter service with the Royal Netherlands Air Force in 2022. The Apache remanufacturing programme will introduce a much improved, level 4 MUM-T capability which allows the AH-64E aircrew to control the UAS platform and its payload, except for recovery