As the supplier of the Integrated Avionics Suite for the UH-60V Black Hawk, Northrop Grumman has delivered software for the helicopter to enter Limited User Testing – a critical milestone leading into production. (NOC Photo)
As the U.S. Army nears a low-rate initial production decision in the coming months on the UH-60V Black Hawk, Northrop Grumman, which builds the integrated avionics suite for the -V, is eyeing possible applications on other aircraft.
The UH-60V's open architecture construct "can extend to virtually any other rotorcraft, domestic or international," Robert Fleming, VP of emerging systems and strategic initiatives at Northrop Grumman's land and avionics C4ISR division, said during an interview at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference Oct. 9 in Washington, D.C. "Future Vertical Lift is one of the opportunities that's out there in the future."
Northrop Grumman designed the system with an open architecture approach that allows third-party upgrades without involvement by the original equipment manufacturer.
The -V includes a number of digital cockpit upgrades, including the same human-machine interface as the -M model to ease the -V's transition into the fleet.
In September, experimental test pilots from the U.S. Army’s Redstone Test Center (RTC) put two prototype UH-60V Black Hawk helicopters through their paces during a limited user test (LUT). Several of their tests included coordination with ground crews preparing and hooking up sling loads to allow the pilots to see how the UH-60V's cockpit displays provided situational awareness while carrying an external load.
"If you look at a -60M, the human machine interface, or pilot-vehicle interface, looks identical on the -60V," Fleming said. "That was one of the requirements. The Army wanted to be able to take a -60M-trained pilot and transition them to a -60V, and vice versa, without having to send them to a many-week training effort."
Apart from a common look with the -M, the -V is to have significantly advanced avionics, such as new mission computers, including a Flite Pro Gen III Mission Computer that the U.S. Marine Corps is moving to install on its Huey fleet.
Under a contract awarded in 2014, Northrop is partnered with the Army Prototype Integration Facility and prime contractor Redstone Defense Systems to modernize the Army’s fleet of UH-60L helicopters by replacing older analog gauges with digital electronic instrument displays.
The UH-60V is to have localizer performance with vertical guidance (LPV) used by commercial aircraft to help landings in low-visibility conditions and remote locations. LPV "allows you to shoot GPS approaches," Fleming said. "For commercial pilots, that's become an expectation. Being able to bring that to the U.S. Army fleet, that's something they're very excited about that."
This article was originally published on Rotor & Wing International, a sister publication to Avionics. It has been edited.