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Monday, September 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: VH-71 Full-Scale Mockup On Line

MILITARY

Lockheed Martin has brought on line a full-scale cockpit and cabin mockup of the VH-71 presidential helicopter as part of the systems integration laboratory in the U.S. Navy’s Presidential Helicopter Support Facility at NAS Patuxent River, Md.

Called a Master Systems Bench, it is a replica of one already running at Lockheed Martin System Integration’s Owego, N.Y. facility. The mockup gives engineers the ability to test VH-71 avionics and mission systems prior to installation aboard the aircraft, and allows Navy and Marine Corps personnel test usability of those systems and provide immediate feedback.

In March, pilots and crews from Marine Helicopter Sqdn 1 (HMX-1) evaluated the functionality of the VH-71 avionics suite, while staff members from several White House agencies conducted a user evaluation of the operational test scenarios that called for the communication systems operator to relay secure and non-secure calls. These included conference calls and other communication operations. At the same time, pilots from HMX-1 simulated flight operations in the cockpit, while out-the-window displays depicted their virtual surroundings. The advanced communications system of the presidential communications suite permits secure and non-secure communications between the helicopter and personnel at locations such as the White House, the Pentagon and other ground and mobile platforms.

The VH-71 is based on AgustaWestland’s AW101 multi-mission helicopter. AgustaWestlandBell, principal subcontractor to Lockheed Martin, is responsible for the basic aircraft design, production and basic support functions.

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