Off the Wire, 8/30Changes Expected for US Army Aviation
Source: US Army
Many changes are in store for Army aviation, beginning with a contract for 368 new Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters (ARHs).
“ARH is the next significant step in modernizing and transforming Army Aviation,” said Col. Mark Hayes, TRADOC system manager for reconnaissance and attack, located at Fort Rucker, AL.
The $2.2 billion contract with Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. – awarded July 29 with a signing ceremony Aug. 29 – calls for delivery of 38 of the new aircraft by FY08, with the remainder delivered by FY13.
“The ARH will have a larger, enhanced engine,” said Col. Greg Gass, deputy director of the Army Aviation Task Force in the Pentagon.
In addition, an upgraded tail rotor from the Bell 427 provides greater directional stability and control authority and the upgraded glass cockpit provides greater accuracy, has better display ergonomics, and is more user friendly than the current display, said Gass, comparing it to the current OH-58 Kiowa helicopter. The ARH will also incorporate an exhaust infrared suppressor. “This device suppresses heat from the helicopter so that it is less detectable by the enemy,” Gass said.
“The ARH will replace the current Kiowa Warrior, one for one,” said Lt. Col. Neil Thurgood, program manager for ARH, located at Redstone Arsenal, AL. “The normal flying hours for the Kiowa is 14 a month, but it is flying about 70 hours a month per aircraft,” said Gass. “That is a lot of strain on an aircraft. The ARH can sustain the current flying requirements.”
The ARH is one of many initiatives resulting from the cancellation of the Comanche project in 2004, Gass said, which took the Army into a new phase of Army Aviation Transformation. “We wanted to optimize our fleet for the joint fight and reduce logistics,” said Gass. “We are restructuring our maintenance and sustainability so that it won’t be so burdensome – more flexible, more deployable, more agile and more modular. The decision to restructure Army Aviation through the termination of Comanche really permitted us to take some of the investment – known and tested technologies – and integrate them quicker into old and new systems,” Gass said.
The Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, AL – recently designated the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Center of Excellence – brings war fighting capabilities to the field by developing new concepts, programs, and training for aviation soldiers worldwide, Hayes said.
New concepts and programs are already developed to transform Army aviation. A request for proposals was issued in July 2005 on the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program, said Gass. The first equipment is expected on the ground in FY07. The LUH will conduct light general support in permissive environments and homeland defense, replacing the legacy UH-1 Huey.
The Future Cargo Aircraft will replace the C-23 Sherpa, said Gass. “It will provide tremendous capability in getting critical supplies to forward deployed forces, because it will be able to land on a very short runway – about 2,000 feet, which is a better capability than anything else we have out there.”
“Comanche money provided us the new buys [aircraft], as well as allowed us to recapitalize the current fleet,” said Gass. “The Apache, the Chinook, UH-60 – all will receive upgrades.”
One of the investments is in aircraft-survivability equipment (ASE). ASE provides countermeasures to aircraft to defeat surface-to-air missiles and other threats, said Gass. “We are upgrading ASE and outfitting all rotary-wing aircraft with the Common Missile Warning System – upgraded missile detection – through an accelerated process because of the need and desire to get the best equipment to the field,” said Gass.
For more on US Army Aviation plans, see Rivals Vie for US Army Cargo Program.
Link 16 to Be Installed on MH-60R/S
Source: US DoD
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego (Owego, NY) is being awarded a contract with an estimated value of $50.7 million for the Link 16 Full Scale Integration of the MH-60R and MH-60S aircraft that includes research and development efforts to design, develop, integrate, and test the Link 16 tactical datalink subsystem and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) functionality for both the MH-60R and MH-60S aircraft, and the Downed Aircrew Locator System Personnel Locator System for the MH-60S.
Work will be performed in Owego and is expected to be completed in January 2008.
Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command (Patuxent River, MD) is the contracting activity.
For more on MH-90R, see US Navy Evaluates MH-60R.
Remote Sensors to Detect Suicide Bombers
Source: Markland Technologies
Markland Technologies and Technest Holdings announced today that EOIR Technologies, a wholly owned subsidiary of Technest Holdings, has been awarded a contract by Thermal Matrix to develop a system of integrated remote-sensing technologies to assist in the identification of suicide bombers.
This Congressionally directed and funded program will be conducted as a joint development effort between the Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) at Ft. Belvoir, VA, Thermal Matrix, and EOIR Technologies. The Army's NVESD research and development group is one of the US military's most advanced technological leaders.
The Army's NVESD has been responsible for numerous key innovations in the fields of optical electronics and thermal imaging for weapons targeting, electronic surveillance, and other mission-critical military applications.
The results of this effort are envisioned to be an integration of remote-sensing systems, which are presently under development, that will be able to detect various chemical and infrared signatures prior to an individual suicide bomber getting close enough to the intended target to do damage.
The primary goal and objective for this development program is to have this integrated remote-detection system utilized by both the military and federal and municipal governments for homeland defense in the protection of installations and infrastructure targets and personnel in the US and overseas in forward combat areas and high-risk US State Department facilities.
For more on combatting suicide bombers, see Shutting the Bomb Factory.
Australian, US EOD Teams Conduct Joint Training
Source: US Navy
The members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 Detachment 7 and EOD Marines from the US Marine Corps' 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted training exercises in Darwin, Australia, with the Australian Clearance Diving Teams (AUSCDT) Aug. 15-21.
The teams spent their time suspended from the bottom of flying aircraft, sliding down ropes and jumping from hovering helicopters, diving among sunken war relics, and driving at high speed down the dirt roads of the Northern Territory.
“EOD is a reactive community. We do a dangerous job when called to do it,” said Lt. Scott Kerns, officer in charge of the detachment. “In the meantime, it is great to be in a job where the training and real-world operations are such a rush.”
One such training event was the helo-cast and recovery. In it, a helicopter flies low and slow over the water near the target, allowing the EOD team members to jump out one at a time. The technique is used for quick insertion to dispose of floating mines that pose a hazard to shipping.
The teams also practiced special-purpose insertion and extraction (SPIE) and fast roping. These techniques are used for tactical insertion for a ground or ship target. In SPIE rigging, up to eight personnel are attached to a rope suspended from a helicopter and lifted off or set on the ground without having to land the helicopter. In fast roping, EOD team members slide down a rope from a helicopter, sometimes as high as 60 feet off the ground.
The training improved the tactical proficiency for the US Navy and Marine EOD units as ESG-1 heads into the US 5th Fleet area of operations, but it had other benefits as well. “The whole point of interoperability is to improve the relationship in the Navy and Marine Corps team. In the past, exercises such as this have only included members of the Australian Navy and our Navy. In this exercise, we were able to include the Marine EOD unit, which added another level of cooperation to the event," said Kerns.
For more on explosive ordnance disposal, see Blast From the Past.
Gripen to Get Supplemental Support Systems
Saab has received an order from FMV to develop support systems for the JAS 39 Gripen. The order is worth $19.6 million and is a supplement to the existing contract for Gripen support systems.
The order encompasses line-replaceable units (LRUs) for support and maintenance of the Gripen system. LRUs are systems and equipment onboard the aircraft that can be replaced quickly and simply, when required.
The order is for additional procurement of systems and equipment, as well as new procurement of LRUs for the latest versions of the Gripen, the C and D versions. The LRUs will be used operationally in Gripen fighters in Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.
The contract involves Saab Aerosystems and Saab Avitronics.
For more on the Gripen, see Gripen Settles In.