Textron, Bell Helicopters open state-of-the-art integration labs in Huntsville

Textron Systems and Bell Helicopters have teamed up to open state-of-the-art laboratories to provide integration and testing of manned and unmanned aircraft systems.

The new Textron Systems Integration and Collaboration Lab and Bell Helicopter/AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems Manned/Unmanned Operations Capability Development Lab have opened at Textron System’s Huntsville location. The labs combine live data feeds, high-fidelity simulated environments and field equipment to allow for rapid testing and system integration.

“Our U.S. Department of Defense customers are facing a period of profound change,” said Textron Systems president and chief executive officer Ellen Lord. “Now more than ever, they need affordable technologies that can be deployed rapidly against their most pressing requirements. These new law capabilities enable our customers to achieve this while reducing program risk.”

Lord said the labs are designed to reduce testing costs, decrease program risk, accelerate time for products to get into the field and allow for training for mission rehearsal.

The new lab is actually a pair of facilities. The Textron Systems Integration and Collaboration Lab utilizes AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ unmanned platforms, command and control solutions and training and simulation equipment. The lab is designed to allow for real-time collaboration and, paired with live data feeds, allows customers to quickly integrate and troubleshoot new components.

On the Bell side, the lab allows customers to develop tactics, techniques and procedures and includes a high-fidelity Kiowa Warrior simulator.

“We are not only exploring next-generation concepts for situational awareness, we are rapidly developing both the solutions and cutting-edge technologies that bring them to life,” said John Garrison, president and chief executive officer of Bell Helicopter.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who attended Tuesday’s reopening of the Textron facility, said the facility is another example of the city’s unique role in America’s defense community.

“We brand ourselves as a smart place to live, work and play and this adds to this mantra,” he said. “Modeling and simulation are so important to Huntsville.”