13 September 2011
Music Links Mulitple Assets
By Richard Whittle

Aviation Week

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp? channel=defense&id=news/dti/2011/09/01/DT_09_01_2011_p18-357008.xml&headline=Music%20Links%20Mulitple%20Assets


The evolving future of U.S. Army aviation will be on display Sept. 15-16 at Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, as three of the service’s project offices—Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Apache Attack Helicopter and Armed Scout Helicopter—stage an exercise demonstrating how manned and unmanned aircraft can work together in combat. The Army calls the exercise Music, for Manned-Unmanned Systems Integration Capability.

“Music is intended to be a showcase for innovation, integration and ultimately interoperability,” says Tim Owings, deputy project manager of Unmanned Aircraft Systems for the Army.

The exercise, expected to be the first in a series of Music demonstrations, will focus on new ways of moving intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting imagery among manned and unmanned aircraft and ground forces. It will feature six types of manned and unmanned aircraft that will exchange imagery with each other and ground troops, using it to coordinate attacks on mock targets. Music will demonstrate four capabilities the Army is developing to get the most out of new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV):

  • A Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS), from which UAV operators can fly and operate the sensors of any of the Army’s three largest UAVs: the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, a 3,200‑lb. maximum gross weight aircraft from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.; the 380-lb. MQ-5B Hunter from Northrop Grumman Corp.; and the 4.2-lb. hand-launched RQ‑7B Shadow from AAI Corp. “This will be the first time that we’re proving out our UGCS where one ground station has all the software loaded to fly our large platforms,” notes Michelle Vigo, lead planner for Music.
     
  • A mini-UGCS, which will let operators control the Army’s small UAVs—the RQ-11B Raven, Puma and, when it becomes available, Wasp, all built by AeroVironment.
     
  • A one system remote video terminal with bidirectional antenna and data link that will use software developed by Kutta Tech of Phoenix. The bidirectional link will allow ground troops to take control of a sensor aboard a UAV and point it where they want to look, rather than trying to direct a UAV sensor operator to the target.
     
  • Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T), in which manned helicopter crews will control UAVs and their sensor payloads. Music will include demonstrations of MUM-T at three of four levels of interoperability defined by the Army. The pilot of a Boeing AH‑64D Apache Block III attack helicopter, a version of the aircraft not yet in service, will maneuver an unmanned aircraft in flight, a Level 4 capability. An AH-64D Block II, the latest operational version of the Apache, will receive video from a UAV, a Level 2 capability already being fielded to Apache units preparing to deploy. A Bell Helicopter Textron OH‑58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter, meanwhile, will demonstrate another Level 2 capability by receiving video from a UAV and retransmitting it to the ground. The relay increases the range at which troops can receive the video.

Music will mark the first U.S. demonstration of the Army’s new Triclops system, in which three sensor balls are carried on one Gray Eagle UAV (DTI March, p. 21). The exercise will also demonstrate for the first time how manned and unmanned aircraft operate under a single commander.

“Music is a showcase for what we’re doing with the Army and the Marine Corps as well, because most of these systems we’re talking about are used by the Marines,” Owings says.

Once fielded, the new capabilities being demonstrated should pay many dividends in combat, Owings adds, but will all center on one key point—sharing information. Most of the information exchanges being demonstrated at Music have been handled by voice communications, he notes. Once the new systems are fielded, a soldier in a convoy will no longer have to try to explain to an Apache pilot—or a UAV operator— which white truck they should investigate or attack.

The first day of Music will be a media day, where reporters will be able to watch on a large video screen and listen inside a hangar as pilots, UAV operators and ground troops exchange sensor imagery while performing tactical vignettes, including live fire by a Kiowa Warrior. Guests invited for similar demonstrations the second day include Army and Pentagon leaders, staff and members of Congress, as well as other VIPs.
 


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