New electronic system seeks to speed attack helicopter response time on the battlefield

By John McHale

FORT EUSTIS, Va.–Officials at the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) at Fort Eustis, Va., asked engineers at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla., to quicken the response time of AH-64 Apache attack helicopters on the battlefield by integrating unmanned aircraft system (UAS) video.

This initiative involves shortening the “kill chain” for the Apache helicopter, which Army leaders want finished in less than a year. The kill chain refers to the sequence of events that must occur for the Apache helicopter to engage and kill its target. These events include surveillance, identification, acquisition, guidance, and destroying the target.

The project is called Apache Video from Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Interoperability Teaming–Level 2 (VUIT-2), says Bill Murtha, VUIT-2 program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. This effort is an example of how U.S. Department of Defense leaders have pushed aside funding in years for long-term programs to get equipment and technology into the field quickly to help the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The VUIT-2 was designed to be independent of the aircraft avionics, which helped cut down on development time, says Greg Walker, VUIT-2 business development manager at Lockheed Martin. It requires “minimum modification to the aircraft.”


The U.S. Army Apache helicopter uses Lockheed Martin’s VUIT-2 system to interface with unmanned aerial vehicles.
Click here to enlarge image

Shortening the kill chain is the result of teaming manned and unmanned systems to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data, Murtha says. Real-time UAS targeting video streamed to the Apache pilots and gunners reduces the time from sensor to shooter. Apache operators can slew their sensors quickly to adjust to UAS target positions. The VUIT-2 displays the UAS video, map, metadata–target location–in the cockpit, then retransmits it to the ground. Ground units can see the video in real-time, enabling rapid target validation so commanders can authorize target destruction, he adds.


The VUIT-2 receiver module includes a UHF modem and a one system remote video terminal (OSRVT).
Click here to enlarge image

For example, an unmanned aircraft looking for targets for Apache attack helicopters transmits the target video and map to the helicopter, Murtha says. The Apache pilot then uses the VUIT-2 video panel interface in the cockpit to analyze the incoming data, proceeds to fire its missiles, then watches the streaming UAS video to verify the target’s destruction–all while remaining out of enemy weapons range, he explains.

The ground link to the UAS video and the Apache sensor suite is through the VUIT-2 mini-tactical common data link (TCDL). Soldiers collect and validate the information with a one system remote video terminal (OSRVT) or similar equipment, Murtha says. Camber’s Sensor Systems division in Dallas designed and manufactured the video panel interface, while the VUIT-2 tactical visual computer is a Thermite computer from Quantum3D in San Jose, Calif. The receiver assembly includes a UHF modem and OSRVT from AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md.

The VUIT-2 also takes advantage of existing video recorders, switches, and antennas on the Apache, Murtha says. The VUIT-2 tri-band omni-directional mast mounted assembly (TOMMA) and right extended forward avionics bay (EFAB) chassis video receiver (RCVR) assembly enable the video feed on the Apaches.

UASs transmitting video include Shadow, Raven, Hunter, Predator, Warrior A, Reaper, and other systems. VUIT-2 also enables the Apache to receive video from other aircraft, such as the U.S. Air Force F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s, and U.S. Navy F-18s that have advanced targeting pods such as the Lockheed Martin Sniper, Murtha says.

“The F-15s and F-16s with Sniper provide day and night imagery to locate armed insurgents and guide weapons toward targets,” says Mark Fischer, Sniper ATP business development manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. Future Sniper variants will also provide convoy route and improvised explosive device (IED) sweeps, battle damage assessment, and high-value asset surveillance, Fischer adds.

The VUIT-2 system comes in 2 kits–A and B. All battalion aircraft receive the VUIT-2 A-kits, which require permanent cabling and structural modifications, as well as a mini tactical datalink for downloading and control to ground units, Murtha says. Nine of the 24 will also get the B-Kits, which use line-replaceable units to provide UAS video display and receive capability. The capability will also be extended to other rotary wing platforms. Manned-unmanned teaming through the VUIT-2 will be used to provide “immediate surveillance of landing zones and over watch protection,” he says.

Planned upgrades to the VUIT-2 system will provide future interface with the Apache Block III UAS Tactical Common Data Link Assembly scheduled for fielding in 2011. The next spiral of the program will provide video sharing between aircraft and two-way video ground stations, Walker says.


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.


Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

General Micro "Horizon" C299

The C299 Horizon is a third generation, 6U cPCI SBC module based on GMS’ upgradable CPU technolog...

Rugged Mobile Communications Server

Advanced communications server designed to be deployed in environments where it needs to meet cer...

API DC Link Power Film Capacitors

High reliability DC link capacitors for power inverter applications which require superior life e...

VPX3-453 3U VPX Virtex-6/8640D Digital Signal Processor

The Curtiss-Wright VPX3-453 is a high performance 3U VPX DSP and FPGA processor card that combine...

UAS, UAV and Ground Based Robot Antennas

Cobham Antenna Systems have designed and developed a range of antennas for use on UAV, UAS and gr...

Low size, weight, and power (low SWaP) stabilized imaging systems for small manned and unmanned systems Alticam 09MWIR2

Designed for small unmanned aircraft systems. Gyro-stabilized gimbal system featuring mid-wave in...

Electronic Warfare VPX Products

The VPX product line includes three products: Modular Quad IF Up and Down Converter, Modular Dire...

Interpoint™ MTR Series™ 50 Volt

The MTR Series™ MTR 50, 28 volt dc-dc converter offers up to 30 watts of output power from single...

Interpoint™ MFP Series™ Down-Leaded Point of Load

The new down-leaded version of its Interpoint™ MFP Series Point of Load (POL) converters are avai...

DIGITAL TRANSCEIVER MODULES

DTM-Data link modules ranges of products are very compact and plug in solutions for unmanned air ...

Related Companies

General Micro Systems Inc

Since 1979, General Micro Systems has been providing the most diverse line of single-board computers in the industry....

Elma Electronic Inc

Who we are...   About Elma Electronic Systems   The Systems division of Elma Electronic Inc. supplies the

API Technologies Corp

Who We Are API Technologies is a dominant technology provider of RF/microwave, microelectronics, and security technol...

Extreme Engineering Solutions Inc (X-ES)

 Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc. (X-ES) is a leader in the design, manufacture, and support of standard and ...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Controls Defense Solutions (CWCDS) is a long establish...

Crane Aerospace & Electronics

When failure is NOT an option...rely on Crane Aerospace & Electronics. We supply high-density, high-reliability c...

Delta Digital Video

Designs and manufactures video compression and scan conversion products for aerospace applications. Develops standard...

GE Intelligent Platforms

Provides embedded computing solutions. Products include single-board computers, networking products, avionics interfa...

Advanced Microwave Products

Designs and manufactures microwave transmitters and receivers for military, UVS, UAV, UGV, and surveillance applicati...

UAVDirect

UAVDirect is a provider of unmanned aerial vehicles specifically designed for aerial photography, aerial cinematograp...
Wire News provided by   

social activity

Webcasts

Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Digital signal processing for signals intelligence and electronic warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics presents an expert Webcast on the design considerations for blending general-purposes processors (GPUs), general-purpose graphics processors (GPGPUs), field-programmable ...
Sponsored by:

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

View the 2014 Buyer's Guide Now!


Mil & Aero Magazine

October 2014
Volume 25, Issue 10
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE