The Netherlands are now the first country outside the United States to employ Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) capabilities, leveraging L3Harris Technologies ROVER (Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver) technology.
Recently, the Royal Netherlands Air Force's 301st Squadron successfully demonstrated a helicopter pilot's ability to cooperate with other airborne systems using an L3Harris ROVER 6i transceiver and a surrogate unmanned test-bed aircraft from Dutch air contractor AEC Skyline. This demonstration opens the doors for NATO allies to integrate MUM-T capabilities with ROVER 6i for broader interoperability.
The MUM-T concept is a standardized systems architecture and communications protocol that enables live and still images gained from the sensor payloads of Unmanned Aircraft Systems to be shared across the battlespace. Through datalinks, MUM-T connects manned platforms with UAS, enhancing situational awareness, decision-making and mission effectiveness.
The proven L3Harris ROVER family of transceivers has been in service for 15 years. The technology provides real-time full-motion video and other network data for situational awareness, targeting, battle damage assessment, surveillance, relay, convoy overwatch operations and other situations where eyes-on-target are required.
'We're market-leading in terms of the interoperability we deliver - the number of different platforms our radios can receive data from - as well as our Size, Weight and Power and usability,' Daniel Jerdan, L3Harris Business Development principal, said. 'The Tactical Network ROVER came out seven years ago; there's no other radio like it on the market in terms of Size, Weight and Power and the number of platforms it gives you access to.'
ROVER 6I TRANSCEIVER (INTERNATIONAL)
The Netherlands Ministry of Defence (MOD) procured 30 ROVER 6i transceivers two years ago to upgrade their air force's existing fleet of AH-64D Apache helicopters.
Dutch Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) have used the ROVER 4 during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the MOD has since bought a small number of L3Harris radios, ROVER 6 and Tactical Network ROVERs prior to the FMS procurement.
As the Netherlands is introducing new unmanned aircraft systems and AH-64E with its inherent level 4 MUMT capability, L3Harris looks to help maximize the MOD's technological capabilities, according to Jerdan.
'The Apache now becomes one platform in a number of connected platforms,' he said. 'We're working directly with the Netherlands MOD on their helicopter fleet - their non-Apache helicopters - to fit them with datalinks, so now they can share data with the Apaches as well.'
Netherlands' use of the ROVER capability to perform MUM-T missions extends beyond the national capabilities and opens interoperability and coalition engagement opportunities across Europe's defense organizations.
'Proving MUM-T capabilities with the ROVER 6i enables NATO interoperability capability for our allies,' John Knapp, L3Harris Business Development director, said. 'We're looking forward to bringing this capability onto Airbus helicopters and other platforms going forward for broad coalition use.'
All NATO allies have requirements for the ability to share data across a broad array of platforms, Jerdan added. With a future concept of 'swarming' unmanned aircraft, the ability to share data in real-time is paramount, and that is what the MUM-T capability provides.
'The ability to share real-time data between manned and unmanned airborne platforms is a game-changer in terms of the situational awareness it provides the aircrew and their ability to share that data with ground users,' Jerdan said. 'That common situational awareness is genuinely revolutionary.'