Hughes demos HeloSat from Black Hawk in flight
Hughes Network Systems, LLC of Germantown, MD announced on June 9 the successful in-flight demonstration of Hughes HeloSatTM satellite communications (SATCOM) from a Black Hawk helicopter. The HeloSat solution—including a Hughes HM series modem with proprietary through-the-rotor waveform, fuselage-mounted antenna and network management—transmitted consistent, real-time, full-motion video to a live global audience from the Black Hawk as it surveilled the Tennessee landscape on May 21.
“Customers from as far away as Spain, India and the United Arab Emirates watched the Hughes HeloSat demonstration in Tennessee via livestream – the epitome of Beyond Line of Sight (BLoS) communications,” said Wayne Marhefka, senior director, Hughes Defense. “This flight validates the Hughes HeloSat capability to support missions such as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), search and rescue, emergency response and airborne command aboard rotary aircraft like the Black Hawk.”
“Throughout the 30-minute flight, HeloSat maintained the live-stream video feed—something I’ve never experienced before on a rotary wing,” said John Wellington, chief flight instructor, XP Services Inc., and former 160th Special Operations Aviation Regimen flight lead, who piloted the Black Hawk for the demonstration. “Maintaining connectivity for the duration of the mission is critical, because when it is time to go, you need to be ready to go.”
With the low Size, Weight and Power (SWAP) necessary for in-flight applications, HeloSat has been tested on more than a dozen different types of rotary-wing aircraft. The wideband SATCOM solution supports mission-critical transmissions ranging from basic voice and data to bandwidth-intensive, high definition camera and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) feeds.
Several partners contributed to the success of the demonstration, including GetSat, DataPath, Applied Concept Group, Intelsat and XP Services.