BAE Systems to upgrade U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter avionics

By John McHale

LOS ANGELES - BAE Systems has begun delivering replacement Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (R-AHRS) to improve the reliability and performance of U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawk helicopters.

The R-AHRS replaces spinning-mass gyros and magnetic sensors with ring-laser gyros and other solid-state technology to increase reliability and availability and improve the accuracy of aircraft instruments, BAE systems officials say. The system provides aircraft pitch, roll, and yaw information and uses a three-axis magnetic azimuth detector to derive aircraft heading. These signals drive the aircraft’s instruments and flight control system.

“Replacement of older equipment with the R-AHRS system will greatly improve mission availability of the Navy’s SH-60 fleet,” says Joe Bell, the Naval Air Systems Command integrated product team lead for the R-AHRS product. “The solid-state technology will provide an order-of-magnitude increase in system reliability while improving the accuracy of the flight control system.”


U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopters’ Attitude and Heading Reference Systems are being upgraded.
Click here to enlarge image

In addition, routine periodic recalibrations of the R-AHRS magnetic azimuth detectors can be accomplished in flight, eliminating the expense and time associated with recalibrating the sensors on the ground.

BAE Systems received an $18.3 million contract in 2003 to develop and produce 658 of the R-AHRS units for Navy Seahawks. The Navy recently concluded flight tests of the new system, and BAE Systems is now executing a rapid delivery schedule to equip about 240 helicopters by mid-2007.

“By putting more functionality into a smaller, lighter package, BAE Systems gives aircraft and ground platforms the ability to perform highly sophisticated missions with reduced box count, reduced weight, and greatly simplified platform integration,” says Andre Doumitt, business development director for BAE Systems’ navigation and AHRS product lines in Los Angeles.

R-AHRS is part of BAE Systems’ NavPaq family of products that range from solid-state rate gyro assemblies to integrated systems that package inertial navigation, GPS, flight controls, and air data into a single envelope.


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