The Navy's Wildcat Helicopters Rely on USB Sticks to Transfer Data

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Navy's posh new Wildcat helicopters are still missing one vital piece of technology two years after entering service, with the lack of a tactical data link meaning crew have to manually download data to USB sticks and shuffle operational information about in their pockets.

The Leonardo Wildcat helicopters have been doing their business on Navy warships and undertaking overseas patrols, so apart from that everything's working well enough. The data problem, though, means that any Wildcat's radar and camera data taken while out on missions must be manually transferred to its host upon landing, which must really take some of the shine off the job of being a posted overseas chopper pilot.

Risking life to make the world safer, only to land and have to try to plug a USB stick in and copy some files across like a low-grade IT assistant. The shame of it. And worse still, the only alternative option to deliver live data is to use a voice channel to manually radio home coordinates and suchlike while out flying.

Lieutenant Commander Anthony Johnson told Air International magazine that: "At present, we have to download everything our systems produce on to some form of media and present this when we land. We cannot currently transfer this data electronically whilst airborne, so we continue to use voice communication." [The Register]

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