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Lockheed lands $49M sensor upgrade deal for Apache helicopters

04 Oct 2016

Night vision equipment for pilots will feature new laser and near-infrared imaging technologies.

The US Army will spend $49.3 million on its latest batch of upgrades to sensor and night vision equipment for helicopter pilots provided by defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed said that the deal to provide AH-64E Apache pilots with more advanced target acquisition designation sights and better night vision capability would run through March 2019, with production at the firm’s facilities in Orlando and Ocala, Florida.

Engineers there will make 42 Modernized Day Sensor Assembly (M-DSA) upgrade kits and spares as part of the “Lot 1” production run.

The M-DSA kit, also known as “Arrowhead”, comprises a turret with a targeting system and night-vision capability, incorporating a laser rangefinder designator, and laser spot tracker components.

Arrowhead was first deployed in 2005, and used in both Iraq and Afghanistan, with the latest upgrade said to improve image resolution in the near-infrared spectrum, and provide full-color displays.

“Pilots can identify targets at further distances through an additional field of view and extended range picture-in-picture capability,” said Lockheed previously. “They also now have the ability to view high-resolution, near infrared and color imagery on cockpit displays. Phase 2 upgrades [to M-DSA] also include a new laser pointer marker and a multi-mode laser with eye-safe lasing capability.”

Rapid target identification
Tom Eldredge, director of the relevant sensor equipment production program at Lockheed’s missiles and fire control division, added: “M-DSA gives Apache aircrews the ability to more rapidly identify targets and coordinate with troops on the ground, which improves mission success.

“M-DSA’s modular design reduces operation and support costs, and will be supported by our award-winning Performance-Based Logistics sustainment program.”

As well as the better ranging and higher-resolution imagery on cockpit displays, M-DSA also provides a new laser pointer marker. It is said to improve coordination with ground troops, while an updated multi-mode laser with eye-safe lasing capability supports flight in urban environments and home-station training.

The $49.3 million deal is the latest in a long line of similar contracts won by Lockheed over the past few years, during which time it has delivered more than 1350 pilot vision and targeting systems to the US Army and forces from 15 other countries.

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