REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – U.S. Army combat helicopter experts needed new avionics hardware to enable the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter to control two different kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are relatively long distances. They found their solution from L3Harris Technologies in Salt Lake City.
Officials of the Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., announced a $29.2 million contract to L3Harris last month for the Apache Manned/Unmanned Teaming – eXpanded Capabilities (MUMT-X) project.
MUMT-X enables the AH-64E crew to control the sensors and flight path of the RQ-7 Shadow UAV from Textron Systems Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., and the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV from the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems segment in Poway, Calif.
Previous systems gave the Apache crew only the ability to receive video and other data from the UAVs. MUMT-X also enables the Apache pilot to control the UAVs' sensors and flight path.
This contract involves avionics hardware for the U.S. Army, as well as the militaries of Morocco, the Netherlands, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
MUMT-X is a hardware upgrade that comprises an air- to-air-to-ground (AAG-X) kit mounted on the belly of the Apache helicopter, which enables the helicopter to transmit and receive video with ground units, and a UR-X upper receiver that communicates control data to the UAVs.
The Textron RQ-7 Shadow is a trailer-launched UAV for reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and battle damage assessment It has a gimbal-mounted, digitally stabilized, liquid nitrogen-cooled infrared camera that relays video in real time via a C-band line-of-sight data link to the UAV's ground control station.
The Shadow 200 UAV is 11 feet long, has a 14-foot wingspan, weighs 375 pounds with payloads and fuel, flies as fast as 110 knots at altitudes as high as 15,000 feet, and can remain aloft for more than six hours.
The General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV that is an upgraded MQ-1 Predator for extended-range, multi-purpose unmanned operations. The aircraft can be fitted with the AGM-114 Hellfire missile or GBU-44/B Viper Strike guided bomb for attack missions.
Compared with its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator, the Gray Eagle has an increased wingspan, and a Thielert Centurion 1.7 heavy-fuel engine that can burn jet and diesel fuel. The UAV can fly for as long as 36 hours at altitudes to 25,000 feet. It has an operating range of 200 nautical miles.
On this contract L3Harris will do the work in Salt Lake City, and should be finished by June 2023. For more information contact L3Harris online at www.l3harris.com, or the Army Contracting Command at www.army.mil/acc.