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Army looks to Benchmark Electronics for special Air Warrior helicopter air crew transceivers

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md., 7 March 2013. U.S. Army helicopter warfare experts needed special RF transceivers for the Army's Air Warrior program to improve the effectiveness and survivability of Army helicopter crew members. They found their solution from The Benchmark Electronics Inc. Minnesota Division in Rochester, Minn.

The Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., awarded Benchmark a $14.9 million contract, announced Tuesday, to provide as many as 12,000 Transceiver Field Units (TFUs) for the Air Warrior program.

Air Warrior integrates all Army aviation life support and mission equipment into an ensemble that improves the combat effectiveness of the aircrew member, Army officials say.

Air Warrior capitalizes on several joint service technology development initiatives to create a modular system that increases situational awareness and freedom of movement at the flight controls, enhances mobility to operate aircraft systems safely, reduces physiological stress, facilitates aircraft entry and exit, and provides survival gear for downed crew members over land or water.

The TFU from Benchmark is a complex electronic device manufactured to a detailed product specification, and Benchmark is the only known manufacturer of the TFU assembly because of company's refined, non-standard and specialized manufacturing processes and procedures, Army officials say.

Air Warrior equipment includes:

-- Survival Equipment Subsystem, which integrates first aid, survival, signaling, and communications equipment with body armor and over-water survival subsystems;

-- Microclimate Cooling System, which increases effective mission duration in heat-stress environments by more than 350 percent; -- Aircrew Integrated Helmet System, a light helmet with increased head and hearing protection;

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-- Electronic Data Manager, a portable digital mission planning device for over-the-horizon messaging and enhanced situational awareness capabilities through connectivity to Blue Force Tracking-Aviation;

-- Encrypted Aircraft Wireless Intercom System (EAWIS) for secure cordless, hands-free aircrew communications;

-- Survival Kit, Ready Access, Modular (SKRAM) Go Bag with integrated hydration; and

-- Portable Helicopter Oxygen Delivery System, a Soldier-worn supplemental breathing oxygen system for high-altitude operations; -- Communication Enhancement and Protection System (CEPS), provides helmet hear-through capability.

Air Warrior is part of the Army's Soldier Warrior program which seeks to integrate soldier systems into complete systems designed to increase combat effectiveness, decrease combat load, and improve mission flexibility.

For this contract Benchmark will do the work in Rochester, Minn., and should be finished by early 2018. For more information contact Benchmark Electronics online at, or the Army's PEO Soldier at

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