By John Keller
PALM BAY, Fla. - Engineers from the DRS Technologies Optronics unit in Palm Bay, Fla., are getting ready to produce optoelectronic sensor assemblies for the Apache Arrowhead Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) System for U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
DRS is building the Apache’s pilotage and targeting receiver assemblies under terms of a $14 million contract from Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla., which is the Arrowhead prime contractor.
The orders represent Lot 2 production of the Lockheed Martin Arrowhead, the Army’s Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (MTADS/PNVS) system.
Arrowhead provides a new optoelectronic targeting and pilotage system to help keep Apache helicopter crews safe during the day, at night, and in bad weather, helps improve performance and reliability, and reduces maintenance.
The system will save the Army nearly $1 billion in operation and support costs over the life of the system, compared with the first-generation TADS/PNVS system that Arrowhead is replacing, Lockheed Martin officials say.
The high-resolution TV image from Arrowhead’s pilotage FLIR sensor displays in the cockpit and on the pilot’s helmet-mounted display to help him avoid obstacles like wires and trees during low-level flight.
The advanced technology pilotage system in Arrowhead gives Apache pilots the option of a switchable image intensification TV for situational awareness. The system uses digital video to enhance recording capability and facilitate still-frame video imagery transmission to the ground commander or another aircraft during normal operations.
Arrowhead is designed to drive down costs by blending components and technologies in other Army systems and programs, particularly the Army’s ground FLIR system, and the now-cancelled AH-66 Comanche scout-attack helicopter program.
The Arrowhead system is designed for “plug-and-play” component replacement in minutes at the flightline.
Arrowhead is a product of Team Apache Systems, led by Lockheed Martin and the Boeing Co., which is a limited liability company comprising Lockheed Martin Millimeter Technologies Inc. and McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Systems (an indirect subsidiary of The Boeing Company).
The major subcontractors to TAS are Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, and The Boeing Co. rotorcraft unit in Mesa, Ariz., the makers of the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
For the optoelectronics sensor contract, DRS will provide more than 95 receiver shipsets. Product deliveries are expected to commence in February 2006 and continue through January 2007. The company anticipates additional awards on this program.
“The Apache Arrowhead represents a new era of advanced target-acquisition, designation, and night-vision capabilities for Army aviation,” says Fred Marion, president of DRS’s Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group.
Lockheed Martin is delivering Arrowhead systems to the U.S. Army and foreign military sales customers. The Army is expected to purchase more than 700 Arrowhead systems to outfit its AH-64 Apache fleet by 2009. The first Army unit to be equipped with the Arrowhead system was to be fielded in July.
For more information about DRS Technologies, contact the company online at www.drs.com.