Lockheed Martin and telecommunications company AT&T have successfully conducted a test to transfer UH-60M Black Hawk health and usage data using 5G capabilities.  

The data was transferred in a secure and quick manner through AT&T’s 5G private cellular network and Lockheed Martin’s 5G.MIL multi-site pilot network at the latter’s Sikorsky headquarters in the US.

The latest test validated the benefit of wireless 5G technologies on the flight line. 

It demonstrated the ability of 5G to support enhanced maintenance operations and aircraft readiness.

The test also proved secure interoperability between the AT&T millimetre wave 5G private cellular network and the 5G.MIL pilot network.

As part of the test, the AT&T 5G millimetre wave network wirelessly moved data to the 5G.MIL network via ground support equipment from the Black Hawk’s Integrated Vehicle Health Management System (IVHMS).

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The data was later directed to local Sikorsky networks for processing and distribution through the 5G.MIL pilot network to the 5G test range site at Waterton, Colorado.

At present, Black Hawk crews take over 30 minutes to remove the IVHMS data cartridge from the helicopter, transfer it to an operations centre, and then get the data for analysis.

The latest test has cut the time for the same process to over five minutes, benefiting both military and commercial helicopter operations.

The IVHMS tracks and evaluates aircraft-generated data, including the temperature and vibration of key components.   

Operators then study these data points to ensure a safe flight.

Lockheed Martin 5G.MIL Programs vice-president Dan Rice said: “These 5G capabilities deployed at scale are expected to enable high-speed, secure data transfer on virtually any flight line, providing another example of how we’re advancing our 21st century security vision by improving customer readiness and operations.

“In collaboration with commercial 5G leaders, an interoperable 5G.MIL multi-site, multi-vendor network is another step closer to reality.”

More demonstrations in the future will focus on further modernising the 5G communications solutions for commercial and military flight lines.

Lockheed Martin and AT&T are also engaged with other companies to upgrade communications capabilities for defence purposes.

Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin reported net sales of $15.4bn in the second quarter of 2022.