Northrop Grumman selects Cubic to develop multiband digital data link system for MQ-8C Fire Scout

Fire Scout
Fire Scout MQ-8C

SAN DIEGO, 22 Aug. 2012. Cubic Defense Applications (NYSE:CUB), the defense systems business of Cubic Corp., won a $3.7 million contract from Northrop Grumman to produce a multiband digital data link system for the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.

Cubic engineers are using microelectronics, smaller and lighter components, for the data link, which will be used to transfer mission-critical, full-motion video (FMV) and data from the aircraft to ground forces and surface ships.

"A data link system that used to be the size of a toaster oven is now the size of three Pop Tarts," explains Robert Kalebaugh, senior director of business development for Cubic Defense Applications. "The smaller size benefits manned and unmanned air platforms because lighter weight systems will save on fuel, which could allow the aircraft to fly longer missions. It is also much easier for ground troops to transport."

Cubic's ISR data link systems use radio-frequency (RF) technology with open-standard waveforms to transfer data and stream video for increased situational awareness before, during, and after combat operations, a company representative describes. The new data link is intended to enable the high-speed transfer of information from the Fire Scout to ground and surface terminals.

The system's modular architecture includes open-standard interfaces and a software-defined transceiver, using a data link with reduced size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP), than is now used on the MQ-8B variant. U.S. Central Command personnel are using the Cubic data link system aboard the MQ-8B to deliver full-motion video surveillance to ground forces in northern Afghanistan.

Cubic's Multiband Miniature Transceiver (MMT), incorporated in the Dual Channel Modem subassembly and small enough for soldiers to carry in the webbing of tactical vests, enables simultaneous Ku band and C band transmissions with dual data streams.

"The vital information that Fire Scout's sensors collect would be useless without a way to get it to the warfighters who need it for timely exploitation," admits David S. Miller, Fire Scout program director for Cubic Defense Applications. "Cubic's MQ-8C Fire Scout data link system provides that ability, and its multiband capability will enable warfighters to conduct simultaneous missions."

Cubic data links are flying aboard unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and aerostats worldwide and are included in certain video exploitation and dissemination systems used by mobile units, special forces, and intelligence teams.

Unmanned helicopter
Unmanned helicopter
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