Lockheed Martin [LMT] said on Sept. 9 it conducted a successful demo to rapidly pass UH-60M Black Hawk health and usage data through an AT&T [T] 5G private cellular network and its own 5G.MIL multi-site pilot network.

The company said the test, conducted on Aug. 4, demonstrated the ability for 5G technologies to support “accelerated maintenance operations and improved aircraft readiness” while showcasing secure interoperability between Lockheed Martin and AT&T’s networks.

A Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter (Photo: Lockheed Martin)
A Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter (Photo: Lockheed Martin)

“These 5G capabilities deployed at scale are expected to enable high-speed, secure-data transfer on virtually any flight line, providing another example of how we’re advancing our 21st century security vision by improving customer readiness and operations,” said Dan Rice, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of 5G.MIL programs. “In collaboration with commercial 5G leaders, an interoperable 5G.MIL multi-site, multi-vendor network is another step closer to reality.”

Lockheed Martin said the current process for getting Black Hawk health and usage data off the helicopter and into an operations center ready for analysis takes about 30 minutes, while the August demonstration utilizing 5G technology cut the process down to less than five minutes.

“The AT&T 5G millimeter wave private cellular network wirelessly transferred data to the 5G.MIL network through ground support equipment from the Black Hawk’s Integrated Vehicle Health Management System,” Lockheed Martin wrote in its announcement. “The data was then routed to local Sikorsky networks for processing and distribution through the secure Lockheed Martin 5G.MIL pilot network to the Waterton, Colorado, 5G test range site.”

In March, Lockheed Martin detailed another recent successful demonstration to bring 5G communications capability to ground vehicles, which involved equipping two commercial Hummers with ruggedized open architecture processors running commercial 5G cards and connecting the two vehicles via a commercial 5G network to provide high-bandwidth, low-latency communications capability.

“[5G.MIL] is a large investment in the future for all of our joint warfighters. This technology will advance and bring new capabilities to our airmen, soldiers, Marines, sailors across all the joint domain operations,” David Rohall, senior program manager for Lockheed Martin’s sensors and global sustainment advanced programs team, told reporters at the time.