Aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin teamed with AT&T to test the transfer of helicopter data using a private mobile network as part of an ongoing effort to incorporate 5G into military environments.

Lockheed Martin used a mmWave network to send data from a Black Hawk helicopter located on an airfield to an operations centre in less than five minutes. Currently, it takes about 30 minutes to remove a data cartridge from the aircraft and extract the information.

AT&T transferred data from the helicopter using ground support equipment which sent the information to Lockheed’s 5G.MIL network, a system combining military communications with tactical gateway capabilities and 5G to provide secure connectivity.

Onboard systems capture, monitor and evaluate aircraft data generated by hundreds of sensors. The information was processed and distributed through a pilot Lockheed network to a 5G test site.

The test was conducted to prove the interoperability between the networks as part of efforts to accelerate maintenance operations and improve aircraft readiness.

Lance Spencer, client EVP for defence at AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet, stated the test was one example of how 5G can be used for “defence, commercial aviation and related fields”.