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USMC Cobras to get new datalinks, helmet-displays

Elbit Systems of America has received contracts worth almost $24 million to provide datalink and helmet-mounted display systems for the US Marine Corps' Bell AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter fleet.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Israel's Elbit Systems, the company has received around $15.6 million to develop, produce and install retrofit tactical video datalink (TVDL) kits to the AH-1W. Subcontractors include Service Support Associates and Tadiran Spectralink.

Scheduled to be operational by the end of fiscal year 2010, the TVDL modification will provide pilots with live video and targeting information from unmanned aircraft systems, and the ability to retransmit this and data from on-board systems to other aircraft or land forces.

© Staff Sgt Matt Epright/US Marine Corps

Weighing less than 3.8kg (8.5lb), the datalink system was demonstrated to the USMC at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland in June 2008.

The company also recently received an $8.2 million award to produce helmet display and tracker system equipment for the AH-1W, with the work also to run through FY2010.

First tested by the USMC in late 2007, the equipment will improve pilot situational awareness by supporting so-called "head out of the cockpit" operations by day or night.

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