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Volume 32 Number 5 September/October 2013

Over the worst?

NH90 programme begins to deliver

ROK procurement

Hostile fire indication

Russian radar systems



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Front cover: French Navy NH90 NFHs on exercise. In the first of a two-part series, Defence Helicopter looks at the progress of the programme to date. (Photo: Eurocopter)

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Editor Tony Skinner, Tel: +44 1753 727020 Staff Reporter Jonathan Tringham, Business Reporter Joyce de Thouars, Contributors Patrick Allen, Gordon Arthur, Pieter Bastiaans, Rob Coppinger, Peter Donaldson, Jim Dorschner, Scott R Gourley, Iigo Guevara Moyano, Alexander Mladenov, Richard Scott, Lubomir Sedlak, Matthew Smith, Alan Warnes, Tom Withington Production Department Manager David Hurst, Sub-editor Adam Wakeling Commercial Manager Jane Smith, Tel: +44 1753 727004 Editor-in-Chief Tony Skinner Managing Director Darren Lake Chairman Nick Prest SUBSCRIPTIONS CDS Global, Tower House, Lathkill Street, Sovereign Park, Market Harborough, Leics LE16 9EF, UK Paid subscription contacts: Tel: +44 1858 438879 Fax: +44 1858 461739 Email:
Defence Helicopter (USPS 023-352) is published six times per year in January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October and November/December by The Shephard Press Ltd, 268 Bath Road, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 4DX, UK. Subscription rates start at 65. Subscription records are maintained at CDS Global, Tower House, Lathkill Street, Sovereign Park, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 9EF, UK. Air Business Ltd is acting as mailing agent. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of The Shephard Press Ltd and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publishers. No responsibility can be accepted for loss of or damage to uncommissioned photographs or manuscripts.

4 News

n Karem Aircraft to design tiltrotor for

JMR TD n AgustaWestland invokes Indian arbitration clause n Canada considers Cyclone alternatives n Polish helicopter competition nears RfP

8 Over the worst?

The NH90 has had something of a troubled past, encompassing both opt-outs from nations such as the UK and difficult negotiations between the OEM and NATO Helicopter Management Organisation countries. Defence Helicopter charts its turbulent history to date.

32 Sensing change
Night vision systems and improved day sensors have been a real game-changer for both domestic and international helicopter operations. Defence Helicopter considers their evolution in US service.

13 Sustainable development
As the first aircraft are delivered to squadrons, Defence Helicopter reviews the status of the UKs Merlin Mk 2 upgrade effort.

36 New waves
Two latest-generation attack helicopter types are now in production in Russia. Defence Helicopter looks at the development, testing and entry into service of their radar systems.

15 Korea opportunities
Against a background of continued friction with Pyongyang and uncertainty over geopolitical shifts in the wider region, Defence Helicopter outlines South Koreas current and future military helicopter requirements.

40 Making gains
Major General William T Crosby, US Army Program Executive Officer, Aviation, talks to Defence Helicopter about the future composition of rotary-wing assets in the service.

20 On the defensive
From mature acoustic gunfire location systems to next-generation situational awareness initiatives, defensive aids suites are vital in ensuring airborne safety within hostile environments. Defence Helicopter surveys the market.

26 Preparing the ground

Providing sufficient infrastructure for aircraft maintenance and repair in-theatre is vital for extended operations. Defence Helicopter talks to the warfighters tasked with keeping US combat helicopters in the air.


DTP by Vivid Associates Ltd, Sutton, Surrey, UK Printed by Williams Press, Maidenhead, UK The Shephard Press Ltd, 2013 ISSN 1741-6043

NH90 part 2 Composites and structures Simulation Middle East market

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Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter

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Russia opens up,

THERE IS NO DOUBT TO ANYONE who has followed the political machinations over Syria in recent weeks that an acrimonious strategic rivalry continues to linger between the US and Russia. The holding company that oversees all of Russias rotorcraft production is, however, clearly trying to put the Cold War well and truly behind it, and continues to widen links with the West in an attempt to further its footprint. After some lean times in the post-Soviet era, Russian Helicopters has undergone a significant renaissance in recent years, buoyed by some significant military orders from Moscow and the continued success of the Mi-17. Indeed, growth in the supply of helicopters to the Russian MoD has seen the company jump from 39th to 24th in the Defense News Top 100 of largest defence companies for 2012, based on military equipment sales volumes. Details of Russias multi-billion dollar effort to modernise its military helicopter fleet emerged in 2011 when long-term contracts were signed for a range of types, including Ka-52 and Mi-28NE attack helicopters and Mi-8/Mi-17 transports. Then First Deputy Defence Minister Vladimir Popovkin said at the time that the replacement programme would cost $29 billion, while analysts forecast that the modernisation drive could see as many as 1,100 helicopters purchased by 2020, which would account for some 80% of the militarys fleet. In addition, Russian Helicopters has achieved a feat that was unthinkable only a few years ago selling the Pentagon Mi-17 helicopters for use in Afghanistan, which has unsurprisingly proven controversial in the US. The company has also furthered its relationship with AgustaWestland, signing an agreement for the development of a new 2.5t class single-engined helicopter for the global market at the MAKS air show in August. It was against this backdrop that Defence Helicopter joined a media tour in August to view the production facilities at Rostvertol in Rostov-on-Don, which was insightful on a number of different levels.

as helicopter OEM gets ready to go global

The visit included: a look at the production lines for the Mi-26, Mi-35 and Mi-28; a briefing on the new Mi-28UB, which features dual controls for pilot training; a look at blade production and new composite techniques; and the chance to get up close and personal with some classic helicopters from the Mil design bureau. Outgoing CEO Dmitry Petrov also briefed us in Moscow on the level of the companys ambition and its plans to further its international footprint. JOINT EFFORTS In addition to joint production of the AW139 under the Helivert venture, Russian Helicopters is considering setting up production of its Kazan Ansat model in South Africa, through partnering agreements with Paramount Group and Denel Aviation, as well as the final assembly of the Kamov Ka-62 in Brazil. While both types are squarely aimed at the civil market, this does provide some indication of the direction of the companys thinking. Petrov argued that Russian helicopters were ideal for the hot climates of South America and parts of Asia given their robustness and ease of maintenance. The company is also mirroring the research being done by Western OEMs in attempting to increase the speed of future rotorcraft. Its Russian Advanced Commercial Helicopter (RACHEL) project will see a test aircraft, based on the Mi-35 but with an amended rotor system, flown for the first time in 2014. While such information is obviously invaluable for the specialist helicopter journalist, it was the openness of the visit and the level of detail provided that was impressive. Useful data on Russian helicopter derivatives has traditionally been extremely difficult to come by. The fact that Russian Helicopters has developed a proactive media strategy and is willing and able to outline its plans to inquisitive journalists should in itself have the larger Western OEMs looking over their shoulders.
Tony Skinner, Editor
Volume 31 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter

Russian Helicopters has achieved a feat that was unthinkable only a few years ago selling Mi-17s to the Pentagon.


Karem Aircraft to design tiltrotor for JMR TD

design contract for Phase 1 of the Joint MultiRole (JMR) Technology Demonstrator (TD). On 2 October, the US Armys Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) announced the award of four technology investment agreements to AVX Aircraft, Bell, Karem and Sikorsky for the TD. Karem has emerged as a surprise contender with an offer to develop its TR36TD optimum speed tiltrotor (OSTR) for the JMR effort. According to the company, the TR36TD will feature twin 11m-diameter variable-speed rotors and use existing turboshaft engines, while providing advances in weight, drive train, aerodynamic efficiency and propulsion efficiency. TR36TD technology enables production versions to attain level flight speeds of 360kt, high sustained manoeuvre, long ranges and higher rates of climb than most jets, while reducing total cost of ownership through low acquisition cost, simplified maintenance, flexible basing, and reduced fuel logistics, the company told Defence Helicopter. Karem argues that the OSTR technology has the potential to offer a new paradigm in utility and performance for future US Army rotorcraft, and can be scaled across all Future Vertical Lift (FVL) sizes (4,500kg to over 90,000kg). The companys design first emerged during the US Army-led Joint Heavy Lift (JHL) programme where it had offered the TR75 featuring twin 23m-diameter tilting rotors. Karem was teamed with Lockheed Martin as a production partner during the 2007-2010 CDA-X programme extension of JHL. Lockheed has since teamed with Bell to develop the V-280 Valor tiltrotor for the JMR TD. Under the technology investment contracts awarded by AMRDEC, the four industry teams will refine their designs and prepare for potential flight tests late in FY2017. It is expected that the field will be reduced to two teams by that point. By Tony Skinner, London

Karem Aircrafts OSTR has emerged as a surprise contender for JMR TD. (Image: Karem Aircraft) A FRESH CONTENDER HAS JOINED the race to design the US militarys next generation of rotorcraft. Karem Aircraft has been awarded a

AgustaWestland invokes Indian arbitration clause

HAVING LOST ITS BATTLE FOR A DIALOGUE with the Indian authorities, AgustaWestland is invoking the arbitration clause in its AW101 contract with the countrys MoD. The move comes as company executives face trial in the Italian courts over alleged misdeeds related to the VVIP helicopter programme, which was frozen from 1 February. The Indian Air Force (IAF) ordered 12 VVIP AW101s valued at $753 million in 2010, of which three two in VIP configuration and one cargo variant have been delivered to the Air HQ Communications Squadron, based at New Delhis Palam airport. According to Indias Chief of the Air Staff ACM NAK Browne, the fact that deliveries of the remaining helicopters remain in limbo is a cause for concern as the IAF plans to retire its VIP fleet of Mi-8s from 2014. Speaking to Defence Helicopter on 4 October, Browne said that with only limited spares available for the aircraft, the IAF is using the AW101s sparingly for training. India has already made advance payments for the helicopters. A decision has to be taken soon on how to proceed forward, he said. Arbitration proceedings will be conducted in India under the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996. Three arbitrators will be nominated one by the buyer, one by the seller and a third following mutual agreement. While the contract states bilateral discussions can start after 60 days of non-action, there is no indication yet of a likely timeline. The issues in question relate to the unilateral suspension of the contract. Neither the contract nor the associated integrity pact confers such rights on the Indian MoD, AgustaWestland said in a statement. The controversy has its roots in changes made to the service ceiling requirements in the MoDs RfP, allegedly to accommodate AgustaWestland.

Three of the 12 AW101s ordered by the IAF have been delivered. (Photo: Rick Ingham) However, it is now argued that this was done to prevent a single tender situation, and re-certification to 6,000m for the AW101 was a non-issue for the company. Nobody disagrees this is the best helicopter. The IAF is ready to take more This is too much wasted time, a defence maintenance engineer said to DH on condition of anonymity. By Neelam Mathews, New Delhi

Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


Canada considers Cyclone alternatives

[The] government believed they bought an OTS product, continues the report. [It therefore] structured the project and established governance based on that understanding. The problem is that the CH-148 is instead a full development programme, Hitachi concluded, and the structure of the project is not appropriate for a developmental effort. This misalignment goes some way to explaining why Canada and Sikorsky are at loggerheads regarding the helicopter, which has been described as the worst procurement in the history of Canada by former Defence Minister Peter MacKay. The only way to get the project on track is through stakeholder commitment to a new form of governance, according to the report. Under its proposed revised project management, Canada would join Sikorsky as members of a CH-148 Integrated Product Team, headed by an MHP trail boss, who would be able to make realistic decisions on everyones behalf. In exchange for getting things done, Canada would have to prioritise its requirements and be required to sacrifice less important MHRS [maritime helicopter requirement specifications] to deliver relevant capability to the RCAF. Government spokesperson Amber Irwin responded to the leaked report by arguing that it was not yet finalised, and Ottawa will consider its recommendations once the study was complete. According to Stewart Webb, a defence analyst who co-authored a report for the Rideau Institute on the CH-148 procurement, options include the AW101, EC725, NH90 NFH and even the Sikorsky MH-60R. Originally, the EH101 was selected by the [Conservative] Mulroney government for both SAR and the navy [in 1987], he explained to DH. However, that deal was scuttled for political reasons by the incoming Liberal government in 1993. Intriguingly, Canada has sent a team to the UK to look at the RNs Merlins. However, questions remain about the political viability of going back to the AW101 after cancelling the contract two decades ago at a cost of nearly $0.5 billion. By Jonathan Tringham, London, and James Careless, Ottawa


10 October 2013


9 October 2013


8 October 2013

The CH-148 has been described as a full development programme. (Photo: RCAF)

THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT HAS confirmed that meetings are under way with rival aircraft manufacturers to determine the future of the troubled CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter project (MHP). On 3 October, officials from the Department of National Defence and Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) met with executives from AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Sikorsky to look at ways to move the delayed Sea King replacement programme forward. PWGSC spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold confirmed the meeting took place, stating the government was soliciting the companies views as part of its analysis of options to ensure the maintenance of a maritime helicopter capability. The government will take the time it needs to complete its data-gathering engagement with those companies, he told Defence Helicopter via email. While Canada had contracted Sikorsky for 28 CH-148s, a militarised variant of the S-92, to replace the 1960s-era Sea King fleet, no finalised models have been delivered, despite a planned initial in-service date of 2008. With Sikorsky yet to deliver a contractually compliant helicopter, the $1.8 billion procurement has become an ongoing headache for Ottawa. A leaked report prepared for the government by Hitachi Consulting argued that Canada and Sikorsky are misaligned in the most fundamental way over the troubled project. The report states that what Canada thought it was buying and what Sikorsky was actually offering were two different things, with this misunderstanding existing at the outset of this project.


7 October 2013


4 October 2013


3 October 2013


1 October 2013


1 October 2013


30 September 2013


27 September 2013


24 September 2013


24 September 2013

All these stories can be found at

Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter


Polish helicopter competition nears RfP

The S-70i is already assembled in Poland. (Photo: Sikorsky)

EUROPES LARGEST HELICOPTER competition is beginning to gain momentum, with all three contenders showcasing their aircraft at the MSPO exhibition in Kielce, Poland, in early September. The Polish Ministry of National Defence (MND) has specified a requirement for 70 multirole helicopters in four variants utility, SAR, CSAR and ASW. Part of the requirement is for a high degree of domestic industrial participation, which has resulted in the contenders offering a range of industrial solutions, from the acquisition of Polish companies to the opening of new factory sites. The MND has a fascinating shortlist of helicopters to choose from AgustaWestlands AW149, Eurocopters EC725 Caracal and Sikorskys S-70i Black Hawk. At the time of MSPO, the procurement process was still being finalised, but all three competitors informed Defence Helicopter that they expected an RfP in late 2013, followed by in-country flight tests and an invitation to tender. A contract could be awarded as early as the first half of 2014. AgustaWestland is marketing the AW149 as the latest generation and most modern helicopter on the market. The company claims that it is at the start of its product life cycle and therefore, unlike its competitors, has been designed for the next 30-40 years, with advanced and latest-generation avionics. The OEM has a considerable industrial presence in Poland, having acquired its largest

aviation company, PZL-widnik, in 2010. Its Polish engineers have participated in the design, development and pre-production of the AW149, which the company believes allows the capability to offer through-life support in-country. Meanwhile, Eurocopter displayed a French Air Force EC725 Caracal at MSPO in its attempt to underline the claim that it offers the most mature European design. Company spokesperson Olivier Michalon told DH that as the EC725 has been combat-proven in recent operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Mali, it was the most battle-proven design from a European manufacturer. Furthermore, Polish forces already have some combat experience with the EC725, as Polish special forces used it in Kabul. Eurocopters industrial offer to Poland is different to the approaches adopted by its competitors. Along with Turbomeca, it is proposing to create two new full assembly lines in the country for both the Caracal and its Makila 2 turboshaft engines. Eurocopters parent company, EADS, already has a long-established industrial capability in Poland, having acquired aviation manufacturer PZL Warszawa-Okcie in 2001. DOMESTIC MANUFACTURE Sikorskys fully owned Polish subsidiary PZL Mielec is offering the S-70i Black Hawk, which is marketed as the international and exportable variant of the UH-60M used by the US Army.

The S-70i helicopter is already partmanufactured and assembled in Poland for export markets such as Brunei, Colombia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Major cabin structures are also produced for the UH-60M. According to company PR manager Michal Tabisz, PZL [Mielec] has a hot production line and is the only facility in Poland able to deliver on the dates required. Since acquiring PZL Mielec in 2007, Sikorsky has invested more than $140 million in new manufacturing infrastructure and employed a further 800 employees to make the company into one of Polands most significant aerospace enterprises. Given these factors, the Polish helicopter competition is a significant and challenging one for the three competitors and the MND. There will be major industrial and commercial implications for both the winner and the two losers, whichever helicopter is chosen. All the competitors are claiming they are offering the highest levels of Polish industrial involvement. Indeed, the majority of domestic companies and research centres in the aviation sector have aligned themselves with one or more of the competitors. However, although the potential programme is large, it is not in itself sufficient enough to keep every one of these companies busy. None of the competitors have been fully explicit about their definitions of Polish industrial involvement. It remains to be seen just how much high technology, such as modern engines and avionics, gets imported and assembled compared to getting the technology know-how transferred and items subsequently manufactured in Poland. As for the helicopters themselves, they are all capable and can no doubt fulfil the Polish requirements although there are differences between them. It remains to be seen how much consideration the MND will give to the industrial offers compared to the product offers. What is certain, given the size of the requirement, is that the global helicopter community is eagerly awaiting the result. By Trevor Sheehan, Kielce

Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


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Over the
The NH90 has had something of a troubled past, encompassing both opt-outs from nations such as the UK and difficult negotiations between the OEM and NATO Helicopter Management Organisation countries. Pieter Bastiaans charts its turbulent history to date.

he multi-national, multi-variant NH90 programme has had its fair share of development problems, production delays and cost overruns, with political and industrial considerations having plagued the programme from the outset. However, deliveries are now gathering pace. Speaking to Defence Helicopter at Gilze-Rijen Air Base in the Netherlands during the third and latest NH90 product conference, Peter Harris, the platforms programme change manager at NH Industries (NHI), explained that there are now 530 helicopters on firm order, of which we have delivered around 150 to the customer side. Envisaged as a member of a family of helicopters by the Independent European

Programme Group, which was established in 1976 in order to seek closer cooperation in defence equipment matters by national governments, the NH90 was one of the steps towards rationalisation of the European rotarywing industry together with the heavier EH101, the Tiger attack helicopter and the planned Tonal version of the A129.

DEVELOPMENT FOCUS The need to develop a new maritime platform for single-helicopter shipborne operations was identified by a number of European countries in the late 1970s, and a programme feasibility study was initiated in 1985 by France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. However, attention soon shifted to a common airframe capable of taking on both transport and maritime tasks, with standardisation between the two versions leading to reduced production and exploitation costs, it was believed.

The first FOC NFH delivered to the Netherlands is seen going through its paces (Photos: author)

Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


All German Air Force TTHs have now been handed over to Army Aviation as part of the helicopter capabilities transfer.

According to a recent study by Daniel Uiterwijk, a former lecturer at the Netherlands Defence Academy, Westland Helicopters representative on the NH90 programme already noted in 1985 that the history of collaborative programmes suggests that the NH90 in-service date, 1994, is extremely optimistic it will take an awful long time to set up. The study, called Aligning logics in a European military helicopter programme, also shows that similar views were expressed by the then managing director of what would become Eurocopter, who argued that it is a good idea to go ahead with the programme, but it is a very difficult way to go with five nations.

After deciding that it did not have a requirement for such a helicopter and would go instead for the 15t EH101, the UK opted out of the NH90 programme in 1987 and the remaining four nations signed an MoU for a joint design and development programme of the NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) and the NATO Frigate Helicopter (NFH) in 1991. This led to the first prototype undertaking its maiden flight on 18 December 1995. Subsequent negotiations between NATO Helicopter Management Organisation (NAHEMO) countries and NHI regarding unit costs proved difficult, with France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands also arguing about workshare issues. However, in June 2000, the participating nations signed the contract for the subsequent production phase, with the first NH90 being delivered in 2006 to the German Army. Portugal also signed the NAHEMO MoU in 2001, with Belgium joining in 2007. FURTHER DELAYS Due to qualification and certification problems, the NH90 programme has been confronted with further delays. At one point, problems within the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) prompted French officials to propose handing over responsibility for the programme to the European organisation for joint armament cooperation, OCCAR, which also oversees development of the Tiger attack helicopter.

Feeling threatened by NHIs aggressive export drive, officials also argued that industry should focus more on achieving timely delivery to the launch customers of the programme. In the meantime, some of these customers felt compelled to accept meaningful operational capable or initial operational capable in the case of the TTH airframes with immature capabilities in order to continue the transition process from often ageing legacy rotary-wing aircraft to the new NH90. A series of qualification and certification issues are continuing to this day, and this has led to insufficient availability of NH90 helicopters for conversion training in general. Customisation due to differing requirements regarding engines, sonar, EW systems, radios and other mission equipment has led to a large number of variants, with some 45 acknowledged by NHI by 2007. According to Uiterwijks study, NHI has shown to be having problems managing the different variants. MAKING MISTAKES A Fokker NH90 source reportedly stated: NHI has made a very big mistake by accepting so many variants, making it extremely difficult for itself, especially in the qualification area. The study also suggests that work, in terms of testing and providing the appropriate documentation, has been severely underestimated by NHI, with each nation

Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter


having its own guidelines in regard to qualifying the NH90s subsystems and mission equipment. Active selling of the NH90 to non-NAHEMO countries has further compounded the problem. One of the problems was the fact that the original design of the NH90 operational flight resident software (OFRS) took only three helicopter versions into account during the design and development phase. However, once the production phase commenced, the OFRS had to support additional system and equipment configurations required by different users. This eventually led to the introduction of the software product line approach, which revolves around a common, managed set of features that satisfy the specific needs of a particular mission, while NHI has also been looking at ways to incorporate integrated modular avionics as part of a future open avionics system architecture into the NH90. Meanwhile, workshare issues also continue to affect the international helicopter programme. Uiterwijks study explains how Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are all behind in receiving workshare, with prime contractors AgustaWestland and Eurocopter also appearing to favour subcontractors from their own countries. On top of this comes what a Fokker official called the common work issue. This involves work that is conducted on all NH90s. However, with the programme having evolved into an extensive range of sub-variants with different mission systems, production activities became less common. Uiterwijk suggests that France defined its workshare in the programme on the basis of common work, with everything that is not common being exempt and subsequently offered to the domestic aerospace industry. This has led to a situation in which the country, according to recent Dutch MoD figures, has a 37% workshare instead of the 30.85% which was agreed upon. NH90 COMMUNITY NAHEMA acts as the international programme office to which negotiations with industry have been delegated by the six NAHEMO countries. It gets its directives from a steering committee, formed by national heads of delegation, and its subordinate joint executive committee (JEC), which is run by the national NH90 programme

A mock-up of the proposed outboard gun installation which is compatible with the M134, M3M and MAG (left) and an Italian TTH fitted with the current mounting for the M134 Gatling gun (right). (Photos: author/Michiel Vermeer)

managers. The JEC oversees coordination of the various national requirements, and different functional working groups come together on a regular basis to discuss engineering, logistics support and other issues. The wider NH90 community also comprises the Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden and Norway. The Nordic Standard Helicopter Program closely liaises with NAHEMA and has even decided to move its programme office from Stockholm to Aix-en-Provence in France, where NAHEMA is based. Export countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Spain have only limited NAHEMA involvement, whereas Greece and Oman deal more directly with NHI itself. On the industry side, the NHI joint venture is owned by AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Fokker. NHI has a corporate structure that closely resembles how NAHEMA is organised. Due to a lack of progress, a new structure was enforced by NAHEMO governments in 2007 that resulted in NHI distributing responsibility for the NFH to AgustaWestland, whereas Eurocopter was placed in charge of the TTH, and consequently Fokker became a subcontractor. Final assembly of French and most export NH90s is conducted at Eurocopters facilities in Marseille-Marignane, France, with German airframes being built in Donauwrth, Germany.

In Italy, AgustaWestland uses its new facilities in Venice Tessera to produce a total of 160 NH90s for Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. Finnish and Swedish TTHs are assembled by Patria in Halli, Finland, while Eurocopter Spain has its own assembly plant at Albacete in Spain. Brisbane-based Australian Aerospace is responsible for deliveries of the MRH90 variant to the Australian Defence Forces. VARIOUS VERSIONS Based on which engine is installed, five versions of the basic NH90 TTH and NFH can be distinguished. The T- and N-versions are respectively a TTH and an NFH fitted with two 2,388shp Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM322-01/9 engines. Due to Italy insisting on powering its NH90s with the General Electric T700, the G- and the H-version of the TTH and NFH are powered by the 2,269shp T700-T6E1 engine. The M-version is also fitted with General Electrics T700 and is a marinised tactical transport helicopter (MTTH) for sea-based operations by the Italian Navy. Despite declining interest in the NH90 immediately after the end of the Cold War due to the resultant cuts in defence budgets leading to countries pushing back in-service dates and subsequent reductions in procurement numbers NHI has managed


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


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Thinking without limits


The repair tool for the NH90s composite fuselage structure. (Photo: author)

to attract orders for an impressive 413 TTHs. Customers comprise Australia (47), Belgium (four), Finland (20), France (68), Germany (82), Greece (20), Italy (70), New Zealand (nine), Oman (20), Portugal (10), Spain (45) and Sweden (18). A total of 129 NFHs are currently also on order. Customers include Belgium (four), France (27), Italy (46), the Netherlands (20) and Norway (14). More recently, Germany also ordered 18 NFHs as its new maritime helicopter. SUPPORT ARRANGEMENTS With final operational capability (FOC) NH90 deliveries well under way and the aircraft fully complying with the requirements laid out by NAHEMA, Harris said: The real test for us now is increasing availability, so that the small fleets that have been operated can stay in the air for the maximum amount of time, and keep the training rate high and the spare parts flowing. Initial reports showed that poor availability of spare parts was hampering the Italian NH90 deployment to Afghanistan and this led to some cannibalisation of aircraft parts. As a result, NHI officials have recently expressed their intent to shift focus to beefing up logistics support. This will be done by improving the supply chain in order to sustain the worldwide NH90 fleet. The OEMs latest move to enhance cooperation with Patria in regard to NH90

life-cycle support services for its Nordic customers must also be seen in this light. The pressure on the support arrangements is very high, continued Harris. The customers in the last 12 months have more than doubled the amount of hours the NH90 has flown compared to all the previous years combined from 16,000 to 38,000 hours. We have been setting up NH90 fleets in all corners of the globe. That creates tension on our supply lines. Overcoming the spare parts problem is a shared challenge. Important for us is to have a good understanding of how each customer orders his spares, with each country using its own sets of software. At the same time, some customers have kept a lot of responsibility for logistics support on their side. Harris named the Netherlands, which hosted the annual product conference, in this respect. COLLABORATIVE MODE Insufficient spares availability has been a major issue in the Netherlands. Unlike Oman, for instance, which has opted for an extensive support scheme, the Dutch MoD itself seems partly to blame, as it decided for a limited integrated logistics support contract due to financial constraints. The introduction of the NH90 in the Netherlands was also hampered by the maritime helicopter group being reorganised and becoming part of the new Defence

Helicopter Command in 2008. Concurrently, the Netherlands introduced its SAP business management system, which like its SASPF derivative used in Germany, provided an additional challenge during the introduction of the NH90. SAP helps manage the logistics processes and the resulting maintenance aspects. Before it can generate near-real-time management information, however, the SAP system first needs to be filled with data, which is a time-consuming process. Some industrial sources have also suggested that the Netherlands has ignored NHIs recommendations in regard to spare part stock levels at the Logistic Center Woensdrecht depot. However, another batch of spare parts for the remainder of the production aircraft on contract was about to be ordered in late September. There is no strong lead customer it is multiple nations with their own histories, with their own organisations, added Harris. NHI is working hard to plug that gap. Instead of sitting back, both the customer and industry have to strive for a collaborative mode. Thats why we create integrated support teams in the support areas in order to allow a flow of information. This is needed to launch investment at our own facilities to forecast what spares and repairs might be needed in the future. LESSONS LEARNED Most participants during the recent product conference agreed that the most important lessons which have been identified during the whole of the NH90 programme are the need for a single lead nation, a lead industry and less customisation. The elaborate qualification and certification process, with officials being involved from the various design and development countries and the international programme office NAHEMA, alongside different programme arrangements being in effect with the NH90 community nations, has hampered the programme in general. However, with deliveries of FOC aircraft now under way and NHI increasingly focusing on through-life support, the NH90 finally seems to be reaching maturity. DH In the next issue of Defence Helicopter, Pieter Bastiaans looks at the improved support of the NH90 and the aircrafts deployment on operations.


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


he UK Royal Navy has stood up the first unit to operate the enhanced Merlin HM Mk 2 helicopter at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall. At a ceremony at the base at the end of July, it was revealed that the first five aircraft upgraded as part of the 750 million ($1.2 billion) project have now been delivered to 824 Naval Air Squadron. Under the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP), 30 Merlin Mk 1 helicopters are being converted to Mk 2s at AgustaWestlands Yeovil facility, with support from prime contractor Lockheed Martin. Once trials are completed and flight crews trained to the new standard, the first aircraft are expected to be ready for operations by mid-2014, with deliveries of all 30 expected to be completed by 2015. The original contract had included an option for up to eight more aircraft, but it emerged in 2009 that this would not be taken up. Fitted with a glass cockpit and an improved aircrew mission console and avionics, the Merlin HM2 features touchscreen displays, along with an improved ability to detect and track targets and share data with other aircraft and ships while airborne. The programme includes the implementation of an open systems architecture, improvements

to the mission system processing performance, and new capabilities for the Blue Kestrel radar and sonar system. An enhanced communications suite has also been incorporated, featuring a new intercom, SATURN VHF/UHF radios and a new HF radio. RAPID RE-ROLE Cdr Andy Lison, aviation lead for the Merlin, Lynx and Sea King teams at the UKs Defence Equipment & Support procurement body, noted that equipment improvements and greater modularity would also enable the helicopters to be re-roled to carry out counter-piracy and casualty evacuation missions. We have changed the aircraft from what was its original raison dtre and created an ASW hunter that is very flexible for other roles. We have been able to take the lessons from how we use the Mk 1 and incorporate those into this platform. The biggest leap is that flexibility, Lison told Defence Helicopter. Radar and underwater acoustics improvements were provided by subcontractors Selex ES and Thales, while the programme placed an emphasis on greater use of COTS equipment and an open computer architecture in an attempt to reduce costs.

The key challenge was that we were really trying to push the boundaries in terms of what is technologically possible but doing it to time and cost. This involved a million lines of code, which was more than there was on the Nimrod [maritime patrol aircraft] so it is extremely complex. We have fused all the available information together and provided the ability to share with other aircraft and warships, Lison said. The MoD claims that the investment in MCSP will deliver an overall cost saving of more than 500 million through the avoidance of obsolescence, and the programme is also forecast to lead to savings on future support costs adding up to over 75 million. Lt Cdr Tony Morris, a flight instructor with 824 NAS, said the new glass cockpit, with large-area flat panel displays by Barco, allowed for much greater sharing of information between the operator and flight crew. The operator is able to create elements of the key information for sharing with the guys in the front as needed.


The first examples of the Merlin HM2 to enter service with the Royal Navy were displayed to the media at RNAS Culdrose in July. (Photo: author)
Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter

As the first aircraft are delivered to squadrons, Tony Skinner reviews the status of the UKs Merlin Mk 2 upgrade effort.



operational a fact highlighted by the National Audit Office (NAO) in a May report. The NAO noted that while the MoD was able to announce in May 2012 that it had finally balanced its ten-year equipment plan, this came at the cost of delaying investment in the Crowsnest AEW system, which will provide force protection for the UKs new aircraft carriers. Crowsnest will begin radar trials in 2020 but will only be fully operationally effective from late 2022. Unless the [MoD] is able to bring forward funding or finds a credible alternative which does not compromise capability, when the Carrier Strike Group first becomes operationally available in late 2020, some operational tasks could only be undertaken with additional risks, the report said. HEAD TO HEAD Lockheed Martin UK and Thales are going head to head for the Crowsnest requirement. A downselect to one of the two competing systems is expected to take place in two years time. Each solution is expected to reach TRL 7 maturity to be eligible for selection. According to the MoD, the demonstration and manufacturing costs of the project are expected be from 230-500 million, depending on a number of factors, including who is chosen to provide the mission system and which radar units are used. The MoD plans to purchase ten ASaC kits for the Merlin fleet, and all 30 aircraft being upgraded under MCSP will be modified to be able to carry the radar pods. Thales UK, which already provides the ASaC system on the Sea Kings, is offering an upgraded version of its Searchwater 2000 radar. Matt Avison, account director ISR at the company, told Defence Helicopter that it had identified that an upgraded version of the existing system, including more powerful processors, was the best solution for Crowsnest. The challenge then became an engineering one in integrating the system with the Merlin. It was expected that Lockheed Martin UK would reveal its chosen radar offering at the DSEi exhibition in London in September, but this never materialised. While its Vigilance offering has previously been publicised as featuring a Northrop Grumman radar, it appears that this is no longer the preferred supplier. Lockheed is also evaluating radars supplied by Elta Systems and Selex. DH

The observers panel in the Merlin HM2, featuring touchscreen displays and an improved ability to share information with the pilots (Photo: RN)

FLIGHT DEMONSTRATION On a demonstration flight for media out of Culdrose, mission specialist Lt George Gillingham outlined the various functions of the upgraded system, including the easy-to-use man/machine interface and the ability to tailor the information presented to the pilots. With temperatures inside the aircraft regularly topping 60C in the Gulf, the flight crew also emphasised the importance of the Mk 2s air conditioning system. Alongside the fielding of the aircraft with 824 NAS, deliveries to 820 NAS were also due to commence in September, with the first two pilots converted in July. The conversion programme takes eight weeks for Mk I pilots, with ab initio training due to start at the end of 2013. Morris explained that four Merlin HM1s were assigned to the MCSP development and trials programme with the first, ZH826, flying in October 2013. Initial testing was undertaken at Yeovil, with the subsequent evaluation of mission system performance and release to service trials taking

place with Qinetiq at Boscombe Down from early 2012. Shipborne trials aboard RFA Argus are planned for November. The combination test team involved Lockheed Martin, AgustaWestland, Qinetiq and the Royal Navy, working on a test once, used by many basis to lower the amount of test time required, with the navy doing the release to service and Qinetiq providing independent advice. The mission system software has been developing on a rolling basis, with a number of releases of increasing maturity fielded up to the end of 2014. NOT SO EARLY Meanwhile, development of a new helicopterbased early warning radar system based on the Merlin Mk 2 platform is finally beginning to gain momentum. The existing fleet of RN Sea King Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) Mk 7 aircraft is due to be withdrawn from service in 2016 and under current plans there will be a six-year gap until the proposed replacements are fully


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


Against a background of continued friction with Pyongyang and uncertainty over geopolitical shifts in the wider region, Joyce de Thouars outlines South Koreas current and future military helicopter requirements.
outh Korea plans to increase defence spending in response to renewed security threats from North Korea, as well as changing regional dynamics, which highlight the urgency of enhancing its military capabilities, including the acquisition of new helicopters. The development of its indigenous industry, in particular the aerospace sector, is a major focus within the procurement process, with offset and collaboration being the seen as the way for foreign manufacturers to enter this lucrative market. REGIONAL THREATS Seouls defence strategy, laid down in a 2012 white paper, is mainly planned around a possible confrontation with North Korea. Provocations in 2010 over Yeonpyeong Island and the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, which is believed to have been caused by a North Korean submarine attack, as well as renewed ballistic missile and nuclear threats, have highlighted a requirement for maritime helicopters, which has led to the procurement of eight AgustaWestland AW159s in January 2013 and renewal of a longstanding plan to acquire helicopters for the Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC). A longer-term threat to the Souths national security comes from the rapidly growing military capabilities of other Asian powers, in particular the modernisation of Chinas Peoples Liberation Army. Conflicting territorial and maritime interests are at the core of disputes with Japan and China over the Dokdo/Takeshima Islands and Ieodo/Suyan Rock respectively, further fuelling South Koreas requirement for maritime assets. The US and South Korea have agreed to transfer wartime operational control (OPCON) by December 2015, but the feasibility of this

Korea opportunities
KAI and Eurocopter have collaborated to develop and build the Surion under the Korean Utility Helicopter programme. (Photo: Eurocopter)

remains under discussion. The transfer depends on the fulfilment of various conditions, including the acquisition of new weapons and C4ISR systems, but due to uneven defence spending in the past, Seoul has not acquired all the relevant capabilities yet and still relies heavily on US assets. In October, a US Army air cavalry squadron of 30 OH-58D Kiowa Warriors will be redeployed to South Korea after completion of its mission in Iraq. UNEVEN SPENDING Koreas Basis Defence Reform Plan 2012-30 calls for a transition to a smaller and more professional force, as well as the modernisation of equipment. The operation of ground forces in lighter, modular units that are rapidly deployable enhances the need for tactical helicopters, and the plan further outlines a requirement for the

expansion and modernisation of the ROK Navy (ROKN) and ROKMC helicopter fleets. However, defence spending has not reached previously indicated levels and annual budget increases have also unfolded in an uneven way. While personnel spending has remained constant as a percentage share, operations and maintenance have experienced growth, with procurement and R&D both declining. For example, development of an indigenous attack helicopter seems to have stalled. In 2012, South Koreas defence budget totalled $29 billion, of which 30% was allocated to force modernisation. The budget for 2013 is set at $30.5 billion and $200 million has recently been added, partly to strengthen capability on the maritime border with North Korea. In July 2013, the Ministry of National Defense

Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter



(MND) requested a budget of $192.6 billion for FY2014-2018. The MND stated that adjustment to changes in the strategic environment requires an annual increase of 7.3% in the defence budget. The Defence Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), established in 2006, is the MNDs procurement body. DAPAs initial focus was on improving transparency, efficiency and specialised skills in procurement activities, but today its responsibilities have been extended to managing defence offset, development of industry and the promotion of exports. In October 2012, it was reported that Seoul had approved measures to transfer key military procurement activities from DAPA to the MND, which was seen as a response to the various delayed indigenous programmes in recent years. However, the proposed measure needs to be endorsed by the National Assembly, which rejected a similar proposal in 2011. HELICOPTER PROGRAMMES DAPA has executed various procurement programmes in recent years to gradually replace the ageing helicopters of ROK Army Aviation (ROKAA). ROKAA currently operates UH-1H and MD 500 helicopters, and about half of the latter type will reach the end of their intended service life of 30 years by 2013. The requirement for a utility helicopter resulted in a collaboration between Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter to develop and build the Surion under the Korean Utility Helicopter (KUH) programme. In May 2013, the first Surion, a twin-engined aircraft designed to support missions such as infantry assault, SAR, tactical lift and MEDEVAC, entered service with the ROKAA, which plans to acquire

a total of 245. Eurocopter has stated that 12 Surions have been delivered so far, with a total of 24 slated for delivery by the end of 2013. Deliveries are expected to continue for another eight to ten years. KAI was also selected in April 2013 to develop a variant of the Surion for the ROKMC. The marine corps has a long-standing requirement for its own helicopters to enhance its ability to transport troops and equipment, but budget constraints have caused delays to this plan. However, after the Norths provocations in 2010, the requirement became more urgent and the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved the ROKMCs request to buy helicopters for landing operations in border islands, which are often heavily guarded by North Korean forces. The programme, worth $713 million, involves the design and development of an amphibious assault variant of the Surion. Modification of the helicopter will include an integrated flotation system, an auxiliary fuel tank and specialised radio equipment to support its mission set. The development phase is expected to be completed by the end of 2015 and followed by production of the helicopter. DAPA further issued an RfP for maritime helicopters to enhance the ROKNs antisubmarine capabilities after the events of 2010. Bids were invited from foreign manufacturers, and in January 2013, DAPA unexpectedly announced the selection of AgustaWestlands AW159 over the Sikorsky MH-60R. The contract for eight aircraft, valued at $560 million compared to around $1 billion for the Seahawks, includes aircrew and maintenance training as well as initial spares and support. A spokesperson for AgustaWestland said that deliveries of the AW159, which will be integrated on the ROKNs destroyers and new-generation frigates under the Future

Frigate Experimental project, will start in 2015 and be completed in 2016. In the heavy attack helicopter (AH-X) programme for the ROKAA, Boeings Apache competed against the Bell AH-1Z Cobra and TAI T-129B. In April 2013, DAPA announced that Boeing had been selected to supply 36 AH-64Es. The contract for $900 million was awarded on 23 August, and includes training, logistics support and one Longbow crew trainer. The helicopters are all scheduled for delivery by 2018. In addition, on 12 August Lockheed Martin announced it had received a $223 million contract to provide South Korea with Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) systems for the AH-64E fleet. In 2009, there was also talk of an indigenous attack helicopter programme, for which KAI proposed a modified KUH, but these plans seem to have stalled. Han Nack Hoon, senior analyst at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said: Apache has been selected for now and any potential indigenous programme will be after that, but that is not going to be in the near future. INDUSTRIAL OFFSET The South Korean government is committed to developing an indigenous defence industry and enhance those technological capabilities for which it currently relies on Western manufacturers. Set as a priority by the government, the defence industry has made significant progress over the last few years through investments, offset arrangements and industrial collaboration. Although most sectors have advanced rapidly, aerospace is still far behind, being among the least developed.

US Army Apaches sit on the ramp at Kunsan Air Base, Korea. In April 2013, Seoul announced that Boeing had been selected to supply 36 AH-64Es to the ROK Army. (Photo: US Army)-

Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


DCoMPASS Brings Threats into Sharper Focus

Specially designed for search and rescue (SAR) and armed helicopters, DCoMPASS is a stabilized digital multi-sensor electro-optical observation and targeting payload. Equipped with thermal imager, HD color TV, laser rangender/designator with in-ight boresight and target illuminator, DCoMPASS delivers excellent situational awareness, long-range targeting capabilities and precise target geo-location data, all packed in the lightest EO/IR/laser payload in its category.

Visit us at SEOUL AIR SHOW 2013

Booth H9-E1


There are various capabilities that the ROK Air Force would like to acquire, but it needs technology from Western contractors, Han said. Offset agreements are therefore key in the selection process for any procurement. According to DAPAs offset policy guidelines, a minimum obligation of 50% is required on contracts worth $10 million or more. Readiness to share technology provides entry for foreign suppliers to the South Korean helicopter market. Under the KUH programme, KAI and Eurocopter jointly designed and built the Surion. During the six-year development phase we have provided extensive technical assistance in addition to transferring dedicated technology, a spokesperson for Eurocopter said. The $1.3 billion development programme, in which Eurocopter has a 30% stake, involved two areas, including sharing technical knowledge based on the Super Puma family, and the development of subsystems such as the transmission, rotor mast and automatic flight control system by Eurocopter. The company also has a 20% share in the ten-year production phase under a $4.4 billion contract. Benefiting from synergies between the military and civil helicopter markets, KAI and Eurocopter also offer a civil variant, forecasting a domestic market for 400 military and civil Surions. DAPA is also seeking to increase defence exports, which totalled $2.4 billion in 2011 and are expected to reach $10 billion by 2017. KAI and Eurocopter initially projected exports of 250-300 Surions in the next ten years through their KAI-EC joint venture, but the decision to also offer a civil variant in 2011 will further enhance sales prospects. In February 2013, it was reported that South Korea has plans to export the Surion to Indonesia. US ADVANTAGE US manufacturers still dominate the South Korean defence market due to the countrys familiarity with their weapon systems, a force interoperability requirement and historical relations between Seoul and Washington, including regular joint military exercises. South Korea relies heavily on the US, and also a potential confrontation with North Korea favours interoperability of US and South Korean forces, Han explained. Around two-thirds of military acquisitions from the US are executed through the FMS channel. The US has introduced various

Deliveries of AW159s, which are to be based on the ROK Navys destroyers and frigates, will start in 2015 and be completed in 2016. (Photo: AgustaWestland)

measures in recent years to make FMS more attractive for South Korea. In 2008, the FMS status of the country was elevated to the same as that of NATO members as part of the US-ROK Defence Co-operation Improvement Act. Another incentive concerned the 2011 removal of 0.65% quality assurance fees that South Korea previously had to pay on imported US materiel. Force interoperability and strong intergovernmental ties explain why US manufacturers are ahead of their European competitors in the South Korean market, and for a long time there was a supposed lack of opportunity for non-US contractors. However, Seouls stated commitment to become increasingly self-reliant poses a threat to this US dominance and creates an opening alternative suppliers. As illustrated above, the helicopter market has already proven to be fruitful for European companies. The collaboration between KAI and Eurocopter represents the biggest defence contract with a non-US manufacturer, while DAPAs selection of the AW159 over the betterperforming MH-60R surprised many observers. In the agencys evaluation source selection in December 2012, the MH-60R demonstrated higher capability due to its engine power and armament options, enabling it to simultaneously carry out anti-submarine and anti-ship missions. Despite these results, DAPA opted for the AW159 explaining that proposals were evaluated against four criteria expense, capability, operational suitability and contract terms. The decision shows that technology transfer and pricing turned out to be decisive in the

maritime helicopter selection. A spokesperson for AgustaWestland told Defence Helicopter: Under the AW159 project, AgustaWestland has agreed with DAPA an extremely comprehensive programme of offset which provides the South Korean armed forces and industry with new capabilities in high technology which were not previously present in South Korea, as well as deeper maintenance capabilities and various manufacturing activities. FMS RESTRICTIONS Han suggests that, despite offering favourable terms, the FMS factor could actually be an underlying contributor to Sikorskys loss since the regulations prevent the South Korean government from directly negotiating pricing and technology transfer packages with US contractors. It is further suggested by analysts that the US is more reluctant to transfer technology, even to its South Korean ally, than European manufacturers. The South Korean military helicopter market continues to offer opportunities, and despite the US advantage of South Koreas preference for interoperability, European competitors can create openings by offering better offset agreements and pricing. AgustaWestland is pursuing a number of contracts in the government and military markets alongside potential further orders for the AW159. The AgustaWestland spokesperson revealed: On the military side there is a Light Armed Helicopter requirement, for which we are proposing the AW169. DH

Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter



ntegrated defensive aids suites (DAS) have gone a long way towards countering the threat from high-end weapons with guidance systems that can be disrupted. Small arms and RPGs lack such capabilities, but have signatures that sensor systems can exploit, providing the crew with threat direction, classification and range information. Such hostile fire indication (HFI) and gunfire location technologies are a major focus of R&D work on improving survivability. Gunfire signatures broadly divide into the acoustic and the electromagnetic. In the former realm are the muzzle report and, for supersonic projectiles, the shockwave. Pickings are richer in the electromagnetic spectrum because muzzle flashes generate visible, long- medium- and

short-wave IR and UV emissions, while projectiles carry detectable electric fields, although exploiting the latter with heliborne sensors is problematic because of the static charge that the main rotor generates. Acoustic gunfire location systems represent the most mature technology and have been widely deployed in ground-based applications. They have taken longer to adapt to helicopters because of the noisy environment around the aircraft, compounded by the firing of its weapons. STAYING ALERT The US Army has fielded DARPAs Helicopter Alert and Threat Termination Acoustic (HALTT-A) on Black Hawks and other helicopters in Afghanistan. The systems is based on Raytheon BBN Technologies ground-based Boomerang. Using as few as five microphones, HALTT-A locates gunfire from shockwave arrival times

at multiple sensors, presenting them to the pilot on a visual display with an audio alert. The effort began in late 2007 and had completed development and testing by the late 2009. This led to the demonstration of a fully integrated system in theatre during 2011. Key objectives of the first phase were to demonstrate accurate localisation of multiple shooters firing bursts to show that fire from the aircraft would not confuse the system and validate prototype sensors and evaluate the display. Over seven flights and 18 months at Fort Rucker, more than 3,000 shots were fired in 465 test events. Results yielded a probability of more than 97% that the system would warn of burst fire at forward speeds of between 10 and 150kt, with rounds coming no closer than 90m to the aircraft, according to DARPA. This probability rose to 100% in the hover for bursts with a closest point of approach (CPA) of less than 100m.

On the

From mature acoustic gunfire location systems to next-generation situational awareness initiatives, defensive aids suites are vital in ensuring airborne safety within hostile environments. Peter Donaldson surveys the market.
Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


TRUE OR FALSE? A low false alarm rate is as important to crew confidence as a high probability of detection. DARPA figures show that the phase 1 HALTT-A tests generated just three false alarms in around nine hours of testing, which happened with the aircraft in translational lift. Significantly, firing the onboard machine gun triggered no false alarms in more than 400 rounds. Recognition of the round calibre was also impressive, with 90% of declarations correct in forward flight and over 70% in the hover. Angular location accuracy was reported as +/-15 in forward flight and +/-30 in the hover. The Office of the Secretary of Defense ordered installations on UH-60Ls for early

user evaluation in Afghanistan. This rapid insertion effort fully integrated Phase 1 sensors across four systems. These provided digital data to an aggregation and processing unit, which combined it with other information from temperature sensors, a radar altimeter and a GPS/INS, feeding warnings to the pilots headset. Phase 2 work focused on revising the detection algorithms to improve performance in the hover, flush mounting of the sensors and reducing their number. It also included demonstrations on other platforms, including the special operations MH-47 and MH-6 Little Bird and also the Maverick, an unmanned Robinson R22. Using the latter enabled shooting for a miss distance of less than 5m instead of more than 30m. Testing of the MH-47 installation showed improvements in probability of detection both in forward flight and in the hover. However, shooter localisation accuracy in terms of angle remained the same at +/-15 in forward flight and +/-30 in the hover, according to DARPA, possibly indicating a fundamental limitation of the technology. ACOUSTIC APPROACH French company Metravib has adapted its wellknown PILARw acoustic gunfire location system for helicopter applications in what seems to be a

A low false alarm rate is as important to crew confidence as a high probability of detection.

carry-on package. The system consists of: two acoustic sensor arrays; embedded electronics with protection from wind and rain; a data interface and acquisition module; a laptop for processing and display; and a set of power and interface cables. Supplied with AeroShotGuard processing software, the system is delivered in reusable shockproof containers. Metravib says that PILARw detects and localises supersonic rounds from 5.45 to 20mm in calibre and detects RPGs, further claiming a response time of less than two seconds between detecting a shot and displaying its origin. It offers two levels of localisation, a wide-azimuth 180 sector if the system does not detect a muzzle report, and +/-15 in azimuth and elevation plus range resolution of +/-20% if it does. The system weighs about 7.4kg.

The RNLAF has conducted a series of trials with a prototype Microflown AVISA acoustic gunshot detection system installed on a Cougar Mk 2. (Photo: RNLAF)
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Seeking greater accuracy, the Royal Netherlands Air Force has been conducting live fire tests of a Microflown AVISA Acoustic Vector Sensor (AVS) on a Eurocopter Cougar. The Dutch defence ministry reported in June that it had tested it against assault rifle and heavy machine gun fire. AVS is an acoustic system, but instead of conventional sound pressure microphones, it uses vector sensors that directly measure acoustic particle velocity the speed and direction of air particles pushed by the sound waves in 3D at a single node. It determines the direction of arrival of a sound instantly from the relative amplitudes of the three orthogonal components and for the entire acoustic bandwidth, according to the company, which also claims an angular accuracy of better than 2 against small arms fire. ELECTROMAGNETIC ALTERNATIVES ATK says that its AN/AAR-47 is the only EW system in use that integrates missile, laser and hostile fire warning capabilities into a single system. It uses UV sensors to detect missile, gunfire and RPG signatures, processing sensor data with algorithms to distinguish genuine threats from false alarms and one type of threat from another. ATK announced in May 2011 that the USN had approved the HFI upgrade to the system for fleet introduction, followed by a $48 million production contract award announced in December 2012. Commenting on the

production award, VP and general manager of ATK Defense Electronic Systems Bill Kasting said that the AAR-47 is installed on all USN and USMC helicopters and transport aircraft operating in combat, and continues to save aircrew and aircraft from attack. The AAR-47 continues to provide the warfighter with a reliable, battle-proven, low-cost, missile and laser warning capability, explained Keith Taylor, deputy programme manager at Naval Air Systems Commands PMA-272 Aircraft Survivability Equipment branch. The addition of HFI to the AAR-47 underscores our commitment to deliver improved capabilities that protect US and allied military aircrews flying in harms way, added Kasting. Thales has also integrated HFI capability into a multi-threat capable DAS in the form of its four-toAcoustic gunfire location systems have taken longer to adapt to helicopters because of the noisy environment around the aircraft. (Photo: US Army)

six-sensor ELIX-IR system. Using single-colour infrared technology, ELIX-IR is designed enhance survivability against IR-, laser- and radar-guided weapons as well as RPGs and guns of many calibres, the company claiming an ultra-low false alarm rate and declaration of all threat types. In marketing ELIX-IR as an affordable and more capable replacement for UV missile approach warning systems, Thales describes it as a multi-function system that provides concurrent missile approach warning and HFI along with situational awareness IR imaging. The single-colour IR sensors help keep costs down, says the company, while standard interfaces, including 1553B, Ethernet and RS-422, ease integration into all DAS installations, and the system can also be connected directly to countermeasures effectors. ELIX-IR also has a software-driven upgrade path. Raytheons Advanced Distributed Aperture System (ADAS) includes HFI along with IR search and track and 360 spherical situational awareness capabilities in a system designed to improve low-level flight safety in degraded visual environments. PUSHING PROGRESS In June 2011, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) initiated an effort to find new HFI technologies, having declared itself less than satisfied with the state of the art at the time. Although numerous efforts have been made to take ground hostile fire detection systems and integrate them on aircraft, no technology has been able to decrease the weight of the ground systems and adapt a sensor to account for a helicopters unique operating environment, stated the organisation. Helicopters generate


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


The challenge for developers is designing a DAS that integrates missile, laser and hostile fire warning capabilities into a single system (Photo: USN)

Keen to avoid adding a standalone system to already complex aircraft, SOCOM stipulated that any new sensors should integrate either into the AVR-2B laser warning system or into the wider Advanced Aircraft Survivability Equipment (AASE) suit, of which the AVR-2B is a part. SOCOM wants a system able to detect hostile fire out to 1.8km, with a range accuracy of +/50m and 360 spherical coverage, if possible. The angular accuracy requirement is +/-3 and the false alarm rate requirement less than one per flight hour. Sensors must be no bigger than 15x15cm, and the whole HFI system must weigh less than 22.5kg for integration into the MH-47, MH-60 and MH-6. INTEGRATION ISSUES HFI sensors must work in a portion of the spectrum in which the available signal is large and the background clutter is small, which makes midwave IR (MWIR) attractive. However, they must also operate at high speeds and resolutions to capture gun flashes and rocket

static electricity that interferes with current ground hostile fire sensors. Sensors must consider extreme vibration and environmental conditions, while maintaining a small drag profile. For SOF-specific operations on rotary-wing aircraft, no technology exists that meets the current specialised need.

plumes. This is not a problem for cooled MWIR detectors, but the cooling system adds weight, cost and complexity. Conventional uncooled IR detectors such as microbolometers, which typically work through changes in the electrical resistance of vanadium oxide (VOx), are simpler, cheaper and lighter, but respond relatively slowly. It is difficult to obtain high-speed videos of scenes and muzzle flashes simultaneously because the optimisation for scenes is different from the optimisation for muzzle flashes, one engineer with experience in advanced MWIR systems told DH on condition of anonymity. For example, high-quality cooled cameras usually use short integration time which may miss the muzzle flash if the flash occurs outside of the integration period. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many experts miss this. Hawaii-based Oceanit also received a SOCOM SBIR award in 2011 to adapt its Fast as Light Assessment of Snipers and Hostile Fire

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Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter



(FLASH) technology for use in a helicopter HFI system. Based on what it describes as disruptive IR focal plane array technology, FLASH can see the gunshot happen and fingerprint the weapon as the bullet leaves the barrel, says the company. Other key claims include a range of more than 1km, the ability to detect and fingerprint all weapon types from small arms to rockets and missiles in a few hundredths of a second, a detection rate greater than 99% coupled with a false alarm rate of less than 0.1% and the ability to process multiple simultaneous events. SHORT-WAVE IR In April, Solid State Scientific won a phase 2 award to develop and deliver a shortwave IR (SWIR) HFI sensor based on the conceptual work it carried out in 2011 under a phase 1 award on the design of a single-board sensor small enough to be integrated into the AVR-2B. Integration would require the addition of a fourth window to the AVR-2B head. Describing the system in the abstract for the award, principal investigator Dr Richard J Nelson said that the system would classify hostile fire sources by type, with high probability of detection and low false alarm rates. He said that coverage would be comparable to that of the AVR-2B, with angular resolution in azimuth and elevation to about 1. This sensor will offer true HFI capability to the helicopter air crew, he explained. Israels IAI Elta Systems, meanwhile, is also working on SWIR HFI technology, and has proposed a system using uncooled sensors that operate in the 1-1.7-micron wavelength band. Chief technology officer Gil Tidhar, in a paper published by SPIE in May, wrote that such sensors are very effective at detecting the black body radiance emitted by a muzzle flash (with typical effective temperatures in the range of 1,000-2,000K). The short wavelength and very high speed of SWIR sensor focal plane arrays allow for high spatial resolution and high specificity in isolating and detecting very fast transient events of the muzzle flash, which are typically shorter than 1ms. To minimise the false alarm rate, Tidhar proposed two solutions. The first was to use a single-band SWIR sensor able to exploit specific features of SWIR light propagation to attenuate echoes and interference from reflected sunlight,

Raytheons ADAS includes HFI along with IR search and track and 360 spherical situational awareness capabilities. (Photo: Raytheon)

An acoustic sensor head from the Microflown Avisa gunshot detector. (Photo: Microflown)

relying on the sensors high performance to compensate for the attenuation of the muzzle flash signal. The second adds a visible channel to cancel out sun glints and interference from other sources such as car headlights, road signs and streetlights. Elta is also working to combine these sensors with radar to add accurate threat range and velocity information. ACOUSTIC/OPTICAL OPTION Wavefront is developing a dual-sensor acoustic/optical HFI technology combining a high-sensitivity microphone with a novel nano-vertex photon counting integrated circuit (NVPCIC) imager under a 2012/13 SBIR contract. During phase 1, we will optimise the NVPCIC detector pixels with night vision sensitivity for high-resolution, high-speed optical imaging,

and develop video muzzle flash detection, representation and tracking algorithms augmented with time-correlated acoustic signals, wrote Wavefronts principal investigator Jie Yao in the abstract describing the planned work. Optimisation of the image recognition algorithm, including coordination with acoustic signals, is the focus of the second phase work in which machine learning techniques will also be implemented. During Phase III, we will manufacture and market the NVPCIC imager and HFI system to major defence contractors to be incorporated into military systems as well as for our commercial medical device products, continued Yao. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is researching HFI as part of a broader threat warning and situational awareness effort known as Omni-Sentinel. AFRL awarded engineering specialists MacAulay-Brown (MacB) a $24 million contract last September to research EO sense and avoid, space situational awareness and missile warning (MW) along with HFI, the company confirmed to DH. EFFECTIVE RESEARCH Under the six-year contract, MacB is tasked with systems analysis of current and future implementations of IR, visible spectrum and UV MW and HFI sensors, with the aim of making research activities as effective as possible. The company will also use highlevel programming languages to support the development of models and simulations of sensor implementations. As well as boosting the efficiency of current systems, the data collected is also intended to feed into the design of new sensors. AFRL plays a critical role in the discovery, development and integration of warfighting technologies to ensure unequalled reconnaissance, surveillance, precision engagement and EW capabilities for the nations air and space forces, said Tim Lawrence, senior VP and general manager of MacBs Advanced Technology Group. We are proud to continue to support the Omni-Sentinel programme, which is instrumental in providing affordable missile and hostile fire warning capabilities to retain our warfighting dominance across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. DH

It is difficult to obtain high-speed videos of scenes and muzzle flashes simultaneously.


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5

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Providing sufficient infrastructure for aircraft maintenance and repair in-theatre is vital for extended operations. Jonathan Tringham talks to the warfighters tasked with keeping US combat helicopters in the air.

aintaining combat helicopters in-theatre requires multiple teams of highly trained specialists using a combination of generic army aircraft tools alongside sophisticated platform-specific equipment. The teams work to coordinated rotational life cycles, balancing maintenance and deployment requirements of both the aircraft and the equipment used to support them. Speaking to Defence Helicopter, US Army Product Manager Aviation Ground Support Equipment (PM AGSE) Lt Col Steven Ansley explained how his command ensured the services attack helicopters achieved maximum readiness levels throughout the duration of their operational deployment.

Basically what we do is provide soldiers with the equipment they require to conduct aviation maintenance at locations all over the world in order to repair, recover and overall to facilitate aviation fleet operational readiness that supports the missions of army aviation, on a broad spectrum of operations, he said. CENTRE POINT The US Armys common AGSE and crew are coordinated from a centralised project management office. From here, Ansley executes the total life-cycle management of the entire AGSE equipment itinerary. In addition to maintaining optimal availability of existing equipment, he is responsible for identifying and

An Apache maintenance test pilot explains the aircrafts weapons systems to a soldier during an air-ground integration meeting.

rectifying capability gaps, as well as introducing and implementing new technologies as they become available. He said: From a management perspective, [Im responsible for:] initiating research and development projects; technology assessments to see if the current technology is actually helping the crews; conducting market research to find out whats available; bringing in solicitations on products; attaching those products to make sure they meet our requirements; and then finally procuring and then fielding those products. During Operation Enduring Freedom, PM AGSE deployed a permanent set of crucial AGSE systems, referred to as theatre-provided equipment (TPE), to support aviation units in Afghanistan. There are some pieces of equipment within the portfolio that are pretty critical [to maintaining rotary assets], continued Ansley. There are units that we have pre-positioned in Afghanistan so that we dont have to ship them back and forth one of the reasons for this is cost savings, another is equipment attrition. ESSENTIAL TOOLS This critical set of AGSE TPE includes the Standard Aircraft Towing system (SATS), Aircraft Ground Power Units (AGPUs), Generic Aircraft Nitrogen Generators (GANGs), Aviation Unit Maintenance Shop Sets and Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Shop Sets (AVIM SS). The GANGs are key to aviation operations, added Ansley. Nitrogen is an inert gas, so we


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


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put it in things like accumulators on main rotor blades and certain struts, as well as the tyres on the aircraft. Its also a fire safety feature, as it wont encourage an explosion should one occur. The SATS is a vehicle used for pushing or towing all US Army rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft, and has been in use with the services aviation units since 2010; the AVIM SS is made up of ten Class 7 shop sets in one-sided expandable ISO shelters designed to provide easily transportable and modular maintenance capabilities to support crews; and the ubiquitous AGPU is a gas turbine engine-driven, wheelmounted, self-propelled, AC/DC electrical hydraulic and pneumatic power source that supports all rotary-wing aircraft. There was an increased rate of wear [to the AGSE] equipment during Afghanistan, noted Ansley. At the same time as we communicate with our users and combat developers on what new modernisations or capability gaps they have or they see, we also have to maintain or sustain the equipment thats already out there. After a predetermined period of time in-theatre, AGSE assets are scheduled to reset. Often this might involve a partial repair or a replacement component, but it can mean complete overhaul of equipment. Maintenance crews will stagger the MRO cycles of parts, refurbishing the worst affected first. So by the end of 180 days after re-deploying, we have all the equipment reset, continued Ansley. This is the standard rotational time frame of operational deployment for our ground support systems. However, it is slightly longer for the actual aircraft.

An avionics mechanic finishes his write-up after completing unscheduled maintenance on a UH-60 in Afghanistan. (All photos: US Army)

COMMON APPROACH According to Ansley, AGSE commonality is of fundamental importance, allowing army maintenance units to achieve maximum use of equipment across the range of rotary platforms they support. The idea is, for the AH-64D, CH-47, [Kiowa Warrior] and UH-60, and in some cases even our unmanned aerial systems, to make sure that I interface with all those platforms, and make sure that [the equipment] I am getting will meet all of their individual requirements, he said. The common AGSE equipment used across all of the helicopter platforms includes maintenance stands, fixed and mobile lifting devices, trailers, tugs, nitrogen generators, mobile electrical generation and pneumatic systems, metal fabrication devices, various aviation shop sets, aircraft and engine cleaning equipment and common tooling or test equipment. In addition to common AGSE, each combat helicopter requires a set of tools unique to it. Ansley described the process whereby aviation maintenance technicians graduated to work on specific helicopter platforms over time. Initially when an aviation maintainer enlisted soldier goes to their first individual training, they learn how to use the tools that we have for each area, whether they want to go into electrical repair, armament repair or be a general

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Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter



mechanic, he said. There are specific tool boxes for each of those specialities. [The soldier will] know right off the bat if theyre going to be a Black Hawk repair person or an Apache repair person, so they will perform the specific tasks on those aircraft using our tools. Each aircraft has a technical manual that describes the frequency of certain repairs or maintenance procedures, and how they should be performed, so thats essentially how we know what tools they will need. [The manuals] tell you what needs to be done, and what the authorised tools are that are needed to complete a particular maintenance task. From there, we develop or make sure the crews have what they need to complete the task. DAILY RELIANCE Lt Col Tal Sheppard, PM for Apache Longbow, explained the specific maintenance requirements of the AH-64D to DH. The AH-64 maintainers rely on numerous pieces of common AGSE on a daily basis, [but]

Soldiers prepare an AH-64D for a maintenance test flight after completing a track and balance adjustment on the rotor blades.

because of the Apaches unique capabilities, the AH-64 platform also requires various pieces of peculiar ground support equipment [PGSE], he said. Some PGSE is critical to the aircrafts mission, for example, the Digital Captive Boresight Harmonization Kit, which provides boresight for the wing stores, gun subsystem and sight systems, and the Hellfire missile system

test set, used to test and troubleshoot an aircrafts Hellfire Modular Missile System. Sheppard explained that due to the extreme high-heat environments the Apache operates within, a robust environmental control system (ECS) was required to provide cooling for the crew and avionics. This necessitated the acquisition of an ECS servicing cart, used to

LO O K I N G F O R . . .



Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


evacuate and recharge the aircraft ECS with R134 refrigerant easily and accurately. Other commonly used pieces of PGSE are various slings and lifting devices specifically designed to remove and install uniquely configured AH-64 components, noted Sheppard. IN THE FIELD The Apache maintenance crew is supported in-theatre by field service representatives (FSRs) from Boeing tasked with facilitating the resupply of critical parts and providing technical engineering support. According to James Aderholdt, AH-64 contract FSR (CFSR) at the company, the technical support provided by the OEM comes in the form of two field engineers on fixed-term contracts. One will deal with the supply of parts and equipment replacement, and the other with technical issues, he told DH. They are usually based in location with the unit for one year. Were not there working on aircraft turning wrenches, were just providing support to the army unit or the FMS customer thats in-theatre. Were technical advisors we provide the training. Training is ongoing because the technology is always changing. And were constantly having to keep up with new software, new hardware versions, and we have to keep the soldiers up to speed on new methods and the new modifications that are constantly coming out for the aircraft, so the majority of our training occurs in that area. Plus, we also provide the normal engineering-type training for troubleshooting and repairs. Aderholdt explained that, with a few exceptions, the equipment used to support the aircraft is largely government-furnished. The equipment we supply includes diagnostic equipment, laptops, software loading stations, and all the gear is extremely portable, he continued. We get technical information through our laptops, for example blueprints of mechanical or airframe structures. The Apache field engineers cover all areas of the aircraft, including the airframe, structures, advice, repairs, fire control and weapon systems, electrical, avionics and data management. We can fix anything in the field besides heavy structural [damage], in which case we need to bring it back to the depot, noted Aderholdt.

But for some of the systems we have engineering access from the field to the home office in Mesa or Philadelphia, so if we need extra help from the liaison engineers or the cog engineers then we have access to that. We have a lot of reachback if we need it. So we can perform most tasks in the field, especially with the electronic tech manuals that we [and the military] have. The military does a lot of phase maintenance in-theatre, so theres a certain amount of hours for each rotation.

ON SCHEDULE The AH-64D scheduled maintenance cycles consist of pre- and post-flight 25-hour/14-day inspection preventive maintenance services (PMS). These are arranged into 25-, 50- and 125-hour scheduled inspections, in addition to 250- and 500-hour phase inspections. Maintenance crews also implement special inspections induced by abnormal conditions, such as hard landings, rotor overspeeds and blade strikes as needed.

Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter



A mechanic works on the engine compartment of an AH-64 as part of a 500-hour maintenance inspection.

According to Hannah, the OH-58Ds are maintained in a 600-hour progressive phased maintenance schedule, with 15 mandatory inspection cycles. Each of the 15 inspection cycles includes specific procedures that must be performed to ensure the KW meets all availability and reliability requirements to maximise the KWs operational readiness rate, he noted. Certain cycles have unique inspection tasks, while certain inspection tasks are repeated at regular intervals across the 15 cycles. MAINTENANCE HIERARCHY Each airframe is supported within a common operational hierarchy that regulates the escalation of maintenance tasks, from basic in-field repairs through to major structural damage. Ansley described the US Armys overall organisational structure for maintaining the various aircraft deployed on operations. In each battalion you will normally have three flight companies that own the aircraft and do the flight missions, and an additional fourth which is the maintenance company, he said. So theres a maintenance company in each of those battalions, and then theres a whole maintenance battalion for the entire brigade, and those are my main customers. The battalion maintenance crews have GANGs and tow vehicles, as well as large-scale shop tool sets, and can perform higher levels of maintenance than an individual technician working on a Black Hawk or Apache. The crew chief is the primary maintainer, flies on the aircraft and is responsible for the maintenance of that aircraft. Ansley added: Certain problems are not fixable at the user level, and get referred to the next higher level of maintenance in the battalion, known as the Delta company. If the issue cannot be resolved by Delta company, it gets sent to the aviation support battalions aviation intermediate maintenance unit. After those two levels of maintenance, the aircraft would probably need to go to the depot. Other than unexpected damage to the aircraft, almost everything is designed so that it can be fixed in a field environment, and thats why we build all our equipment the way we do, so that it can deploy and operate in that field environment. DH

Like the Apache, the H-60 Black Hawk utilises several pieces of AGSE common to other army aviation aircraft, however there are numerous pieces of PGSE that are required by mission sets unique to the platform. Col Thomas Todd, PM for utility helicopters, described the Black Hawks tool shed: The PGSE include items like: display/avionics/ survivability suite/flight control system test sets; internal and external extended-range fuel system support equipment; internal and external hoist support equipment; medical support equipment; armament support equipment; gearbox and engine stands; airframe alignment fixtures; environmental system support equipment; onboard oxygen generating support equipment; software loading support equipment; aircraft blade folding and transport support equipment; flight control rig equipment; and numerous special tools required to support specific aircraft component installations and removals. He explained that in-theatre pre- and postflight inspections of the Black Hawk are driven by the execution of various maintenance events completed during scheduled maintenance intervals, including: preventative maintenance daily; PMS 40 hour; preventative maintenance inspection (PMI) 1 360 hour; and PMI 2 720 hour. Various special inspections occur as a result of operational use. SUPPORTING WARRIORS According to Lt Col Matt Hannah, PM for Kiowa Warrior (KW), there are approximately 300 AGSE and 100 PGSE items used by ground teams to maintain the Bell OH-58D, and equipment unique to the platform included: flight control rigging tools; engine lifting brackets; engine to

transmission alignment sets; and engine fuel nozzle fixtures. He told DH that in-theatre support provided by platform OEMs was dependant on the warfighters needs training, avionics diagnostics and trouble-shooting could all be provided under a CFSR contract with them, which would dictate the type of support the OEMs provide in-theatre. CFSRs act as the technical interface liaison on airframe and airframe subsystems, providing maintenance and technical advice to the units and reaching back to the OEM main office for additional support or emerging technical support when needed, explained Hannah. It is important to note that although a CFSR may have access to new data from the OEM, the CFSR will only advise and/or follow established army procedures. The CFSR may also perform testing or diagnostics using OEM-provided test equipment that is either purchased outright by the army or has been provided for use under the CFSR contract.

The Standard Aircraft Towing System is used for repositioning US Army rotary-wing aircraft, as well as ground support equipment.


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


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hen the Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/Pilots Night Vision Sensor (TADS/PNVS) entered service in 1984, it ushered in a new era of integrated EO sensor systems for military helicopters, and it has been hugely influential on all subsequent developments in this field. By 2005, when the modernised version known as M-TADS/PNVS was fielded, the core sensor technology of the original was in urgent need of more performance and reliability. The new system was delivered both with a new generation of high-resolution, highperformance thermal imagers from Lockheed Martins Missiles and Fire Control division and a raft of other enhancements. The new longwave (8-14 microns) scanned thermal imagers continue to provide target detection, recognition and identification at long stand-off ranges and penetrate battlefield obscurants to enhance the aircrews situational awareness and their ability to support comrades and allies on the ground.

Night vision systems and improved day sensors have been a real game-changer for both domestic and international helicopter operations. Peter Donaldson considers their evolution in US service.

The first OH-58F, featuring the Raytheon-developed Common Sensor Payload, made its maiden flight in April. (Photo: US Army)


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


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Fielding the M-TADS/ PNVS sensor suite has been described as a game-changer in terms of the capabilities of the AH-64. (Photo: US Army)

GIVING 150% With more than 1,200 delivered to the US Army and 12 international customers, Lockheed Martin claims that M-TADS/PNVS enhances system performance and reliability by more than 150%, reduces the number of maintenance actions by more than 60% and will save the US Army more than $1 billion over its 40-year service life. On 8 August, the manufacturer and the army celebrated the remarkable achievement of one million flight hours on M-TADS/PNVS and it continues to evolve. This system has been touted as a gamechanger for our aviators and soldiers on the ground, said Col Jeff Hager, US Army project manager for Apache. Addressing guests assembled at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Controls facilities in Orlando, Florida, he noted: It has provided the army with unprecedented situational awareness and targeting ability that has helped to save the lives of US soldiers and our allies. This achievement is a testament to the US Armys and Lockheed Martins commitment to keeping M-TADS/PNVS mission-ready in support of warfighters critical combat and training requirements, said Dave Belvin, director of Apache programmes at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. Years of innovation

and engineering enhancements, combined with the dedication of army aircrews and maintainers, have ensured outstanding M-TADS/PNVS reliability and maintainability performance. DAY OF DELIVERY While the night side of the Apaches EO took precedence in the upgrade schedule, the day side was not forgotten. On 6 June, Lockheed Martin announced delivery of the first Modernised Day Sensor Assembly (M-DSA) laser rangefinder/designator (LRFD) for the AH-64D/E, which the company has developed in cooperation with Selex ES. The new laser is the first component to be fielded in the M-DSA, said Lt Col Steve Van Riper,

US Army product manager for Apache sensors. The US Army looks forward to a lasting relationship with the Lockheed Martin and Selex team we anticipate continued success as we quickly ramp up to our planned production rate and begin fielding. The M-DSA programme consists of a series of phased upgrades, of which the new laser system is the first and is intended both to improve performance and mitigate component obsolescence issues, says the company. Based on modern diode-pumped lasers that replace maintenance-intensive 1970s/80s technology, it is expected to reduce operational and maintenance costs by up to 50% compared with the old system over its life cycle. This milestone represents a highly successful team effort that provides significant benefit to the Apache pilot through system reliability, maintainability and performance, said Matt Hoffman, director of M-TADS/PNVS programmes at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. With more than 685 modernised LRFD kits on contract, this milestone signifies Lockheed Martins ability to deliver on its commitment to supporting the soldier. Enabling Apache crews to get the full benefit of the latest TV cameras is the focus of the second phase of M-DSA, in which the cockpit will be fitted with colour displays. It might seem surprising that it has taken so long to fit this key aircraft with such functionality. However, producing colour displays that can also exploit the full performance of the high-resolution thermal imagers, which operate in monochrome, has proven difficult. Now that the display technology has caught up, crews can benefit from the greater situational awareness that the colour displays bring and can communicate more effectively with troops on the ground, literally adding colour to their descriptions of targets and their surroundings. OH-58 UPDATE Adding better sensors is also a crucial element of the US Armys Cockpit and Sensor Upgrade Program (CASUP) for the Kiowa Warrior, which flew with its new OH-58F designation for the first time in April. Famously outlasting major efforts to replace it, including the RAH-66 Comanche and the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) programmes, the Kiowa Warrior is now the subject of an effort to capitalise on

The US Army has celebrated the remarkable achievement of one million flight hours on M-TADS/PNVS.


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


technologies and systems already fielded on other aircraft to boost its performance while minimising cost and risk. Applying this philosophy, Bell Helicopter and the army have worked together with the latter as systems integrator to add a new EO/IR sensor turret mounted under the aircrafts nose instead of on top of its rotor mast; better cockpit control hardware and software to improve situational awareness; three full-colour MFDs; a digital intercom; upgraded ASE; a dualredundant FADEC; and a redesigned wiring harness. The OH-58F will also be able to make the most of the latest Hellfire missile variants. The new EO sensor is the same Raytheon AN/ AAS-53 Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS) that was intended to equip the cancelled ARH, and is a prime application of the CASUP riskreduction philosophy. Sensors from the MTS family equip a broad variety of US military aircraft, including C-130s, MH-60s and Reaper armed UAVs. According to Raytheon, MTS turrets have been integrated on more than 16 platforms, representing all branches of the US military and the Department of Homeland Security, plus special mission aircraft for NASA, US special forces and international coalition fleets. COMMON CONNECTION The MTS variant for the OH-58F is the Common Sensor Payload, which shares much with the AN/DAS-2 on the armys Extended Range MultiPurpose unmanned aerial system; the AN/AAS52 and AN/DAS-1 on the USAFs Predator and Reaper UAVs; as well as the AN/AAS-44(C) on the USNs MH-60R/S Seahawks and the AN/ZSQ-2 on US Special Operations Command helicopters, according to Raytheon. It provides the OH-58F with an advanced thermal imager, an image intensifier and colour TV capabilities, and adds a laser pointer and laser spot tracker to the standard and eye-safe LRFD. Like the latest Apaches, the aircraft can also exploit off-board sensors through Level II UAS teaming, which enables the crew to bring up UAV imagery on any of the cockpit screens. Relocating the Kiowa Warriors main sensor from the rotor mast to the nose is the most obvious change to the aircrafts appearance. The original position was chosen to enable the aircraft to minimise its exposure to enemy air defences in the nap-of-the-Earth reconnaissance environment of the North

German Plain during the Cold War, and it has proven restrictive when operating at higher altitudes against enemies at closer range, frequently running into the lower elevation limits when trying to track targets, particularly in urban environments. The US Army is also improving sensor capabilities on its medevac aircraft. In mid-May, the service awarded FLIR Systems an $81 million contract for the Medevac Mission Sensor (MMS) variant of the companys 23cm Talon multisensor gimbal for current medevac Black Hawk fleets and new-build aircraft. Deliveries under a $19 million initial order are scheduled to be completed next year. The army describes MMS as a patient location sensor and says that it is critical to the continuous ability to conduct operations by night and in adverse weather. To continue to be a key element of the US Armys medevac mission is an honour, said Earl Lewis, the then president and CEO of FLIR. Our highly advanced imaging systems enhance the efficient and safe location and transport of injured personnel and medics in the field. SIXTH SENSOR The Talon gimbal can accommodate up to six sensors at the same time, including a 640x480 element thermal imager; a colour TV camera or combined colour/low-light sensor; a laser pointer or illuminator; a laser rangefinder; and a combined GPS and inertial measurement unit. The low light sensor works down to subquarter moon conditions, says FLIR Systems, and in zero ambient light when used in conjunction with the laser illuminator, which also identifies targets for observers using NVG or other image intensifying sensors.

The Lockheed Martin AN/AAQ-30 Target Sight System (above) has been integrated with the USMCs AH-1Z Viper (top). (Photos: USMC/Lockheed Martin)

Talons will be installed on USCG Sikorsky H-60s and Eurocopter H-65s under a $23 million contract awarded in May. These sensors will be in the USCGs EO Sensor System (ESS) configuration, and the schedule calls for deliveries to be completed by the end of the year. New FLIR Systems turrets will also be fitted to US Army HH-60s by Sikorsky under a $7 million contract awarded in August. A total of 12 aircraft will receive Star Safire II surveillance gimbals by December. The USN also continues to invest in helicopter sensor systems to support major upgrade programmes, awarding Lockheed Martin a contract worth almost $34 million for AN/AAQ30 Target Sight Systems (TSS) for the USMCs AH-1Z Vipers. Plans call for the work to be carried out at Lockheeds facilities in Orlando and Ocala, Florida, with completion due in November 2015. The TSS went into operation for the first time in February 2012 with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit as part of Amphibious Squadron 5. DH

Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter




Two latest-generation attack helicopter types are now in production in Russia. Alexander Mladenov looks at the development, extensive testing and entry into service of their radar systems.
n November 2011, the first Russian attack helicopter equipped with an airborne radar completed significant testing and evaluation efforts and was formally fielded in service with the Russian Air Forces (RuAFs) Army Aviation branch. The co-axial Kamov Ka-52 has a nosemounted Phazotron-NIIR FH-01 Arbalet (Crossbow) millimetric radar with a large parabolic antenna installed in a radome in the nose. The first four radar-equipped aircraft were taken on strength in December 2011, and by mid-2013 Moscow-based Phazotron-NIIR reported that as many as 40 productionstandard FH-01 Arbalet sets have already been handed over to the RuAF. UNDER THE WEATHER As claimed by both Kamov and Phazotron-NIIR, the radars principal advantage compared to the day/night optronic observation and targeting payloads is in its ability to provide targeting information under various weather conditions its performance is not degraded by rain, clouds or smoke on the battlefield and it also has a much faster scan cycle of the underlying terrain. Thanks to the combination of these abilities, the radar can provide better situational awareness, target detection and safety of flight in adverse conditions, enhancing the Ka-52s overall battlefield effectiveness and survivability. In its current production configuration and state of integration, however, the FH-01 Arbalet cannot be considered a completely independent target acquisition, classification and identification sensor, as the target engagement cycle still requires visual detection and identification this next step is set to take place in the near-to-mid future by adding new software and hardware. The FH-01 set was initially offered by Phazotron-NIIR with an additional L-band decimetric-wavelength channel (known as Arbalet-L), with a single mast-mounted antenna or multiple conformal antennas providing a 360 scan capability using common processing hardware and software. This enhanced capability, however, was eventually rejected by the RuAF for its production-standard Ka-52s in order to simplify the development and qualification effort and reduce the radars development, testing and production costs. The millimetric wavelength chosen for the radar of an attack helicopter, which typically conducts missions at low and ultra-low altitudes, is less sensitive to ground clutter and can provide high-resolution mapping of underlying terrain, detecting radar-reflecting stationary and moving objects. The radar weighs 140kg and its large parabolic antenna scans a 120 sector in front of the helicopter 60 left and right. The FH-01 Arbalet works in the Ka-band and is used for detecting ground, sea and air targets and supporting precision engagement by cueing the helicopters GOES-451 optronic payload for visual identification and firing of both the 9M120-1 Ataka-V and 9A4172 Vikhr-1 laser beam-riding anti-tank guided missiles. The nose-mounted antenna works in a vibration-free environment with unobstructed field of view in the forward hemisphere, and the radar can be used at a minimum altitude of between 30 and 160ft. DEVELOPMENT HISTORY The FH-01 Arbalet-52 radar was developed in the mid-1990s, initially conceived for export customers, and in 2002 a version for the RuAF Ka-52 fleet was launched. An experimental radar set was installed onto the platforms first prototype, and based on initial test results obtained during a series of 17 sorties in 2004, Phazatron-NIIRs design team introduced a plethora of software changes to the system in order to increase range and improve the radars sector search performance. The baseline hardware, however, remains unchanged. Arbalets initial flight tests on the Ka-52 in 2004 confirmed the performance expectations of the design team with the helicopter flying at between 50 and 130ft, the maximum detection range of a large railway bridge was 32km, while air targets were detected at between 11 and 15km, main battle tanks at 12km and power lines at 20km. Range resolution is quoted as being under 20m and angular resolution amounts to 20 angular minutes. There is also a weather mode that can detect dangerous meteorological occurrences and air turbulence zones, while another mode provides obstacle-avoidance data for ultra-low-level flight. The moving target indication (MTI) mode, also tested for the first time in 2004, facilitates detection of a moving vehicle (at speeds over


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5

The Mi-28Ns mast-mounted NO25 radar (left) is claimed to be capable of searching a 180 sector in air-to-air mode, while the Ka-52 is the first Russian attack helicopter to introduce a fully operational radar, the FH-01 Arbalet-52 (below). (Photos: via author)

10km/h) at a maximum distance of 16km. The helicopter crew also commented that the radar was able to precisely locate a motorway thanks to the detected flow of moving vehicles. In its initial production version, the FH-01 Arbalet lacked the non-cooperative identification capability of surface targets of the kind featured on Lockheed Martins AN/APR-78, which is installed on the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow. However, according to sources from Kamov, a series of enhancements is planned for introduction in foreseeable future. DUAL DERIVATIVE For the Ka-52s ship-borne derivative, designated the Ka-52K and currently being developed for the Russian Naval Aviation service, Phazotron-NIIR is proposing a dual-band radar, based on the FH-01 Arbalet design and featuring an additional centimetric-wavelength channel (working in the X-band, emitting at 3cm wavelength). It will be optimised for detection of sea surface targets, capable of detecting large ships at a distance of between 150 and 180km, which is about ten times greater than that of the original FH-01 Arbalet. Phazotron-NIIRs designer general, Yuriy Guskov, maintained in 2012 that, in principle, the dual-wavelength capability can be provided by both the original mechanical-scan parabolic

antenna of the FH-01 Arbalet (by using two separate emitters) or by introducing a purposedesigned electronic scan active phased array the former option, however, is considered far more affordable. The Russian MoD has not yet made a firm decision on the radar type to be used on the Ka-52K, and the prototypes and initial production examples will retain the Ka-52s original millimetric-wavelength set. FLIGHT DELAYS Meanwhile, the Mi-28Ns N025 mast-mounted millimetre-wavelength radar for adverse weather and night-time navigation and targeting is the first of its kind in Russia, originally intended to be an AN/APG-78lookalike system, providing rapid automatic detection, classification and prioritisation of multiple ground and air targets. All design work, including software development, was handled by Ryazan-based GRPZs own scientific technical centre.

Developed in the early 2000s, the N025 is not far from its definitive configuration, as it is expected to be launched into production in 2015 following completion of the extensive multi-phase testing and evaluation effort for the new radar. The Mi-28Ns radar set, working in the Ka-band, is claimed to be capable of searching a 90 sector in air-to-surface mode and a 180 sector in air-to-air mode, with a scan cycle completion time of one second. Maximum detection range claimed by GRPZ for the N025 is in the region of 20km. The radar antenna mount can be rotated through 360 at a rate of up to 90 per second. The N025 is designed for mapping, static and moving target detection (including ground, sea and air targets) and measurement of their co-ordinates for rapid cueing of the Mi-28Ns Tor-28N optronic sensor. It is also claimed to enhance flight safety through obstacle detection in front of the helicopter and warning of potentially dangerous bad weather occurrences at ranges up to 100km. The underlying terrain image can be used by the crew for rapid cueing of the Tor28N package located in the nose towards a selected target, thus shortening the target search-and-track cycle. REAL LIFE The radar employs real beam mapping, Doppler beam sharpening and MTI techniques to provide automatic target detection and tracking. In its initial guise, the NO25 is capable of tracking up to four surface targets simultaneously. No information has been revealed regarding the radars real-life capabilities for non-cooperative identification of surface and air targets, however it is believed that development of identification algorithms in the radars software (using the specific shape and Doppler signature of the radar returns) is still at an early stage. In its latest iteration, the antenna is installed on a mast mount, stabilised in the vertical and horizontal plane in order to ensure unaltered detection performance and an unchanged search sector during manoeuvring of the carrier helicopter. The mast-mounted package of the N025 consists of an antenna, transmitter unit

Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter


The NO25 is expected to be launched into production at GRPZ by 2015, following completion of an extensive flight testing and evaluation effort. (Photos: author)

and multi-functional source generator, while its computing unit is located in the fuselage, as are the power supply and control boxes. The mast-mounted mechanical-scan radar was flight tested for the first time in February 2007, with the Mi-28N hovering at around 25ft. The main objective of the initial testing campaign was to verify the radars functionality in a vibrating environment and whether it suffered from the interference caused by the rotating main rotor blades. The main issue encountered during the initial testing was related to the reliable operation of the radars stabilised mount, and it necessitated extensive redesign and bench testing. As many as three versions of the mount were developed and tested, with the final iteration proving effective enough to prevent the radar picture from blurring. A total of three radar sets for developmental testing and evaluation purposes were produced at GRPZ between 2007 and 2009, all of which have since undergone multiple hardware and

software improvements. The first example was installed on a Mi-28N belonging to Mil MHP; the second is to be installed on another Mi-28N, undergoing the so-called inter-organisational testing phase (to be held jointly by GRPZ, Mil MHP and the RuAF); while the third is installed on a van used by GRPZ for developmental testing and evaluation of the newly added hardware and software components. IMPROVED SOFTWARE The radar software was also vastly improved during the developmental testing effort, which added two new modes of operation. The first is low-level flight (looking forward for obstacles in front of the helicopter), and MTI with Doppler beam sharpening. Currently, the software is being enhanced through incorporation of new algorithms, enabling air target recognition and further azimuth resolution improvements. After a prolonged development period and extensive ground testing to evaluate these improvements, flight testing of the upgraded

radar on the Mi-28N resumed in late 2011 to evaluate all the operating modes. As of May 2012, a total of 12 test sorties had been performed to check the effectiveness of the

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Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5


stabilised platform and vibration loads at various stages of flight, such as take-off, hover, acceleration in horizontal flight, deceleration, high-G manoeuvres etc.

The next phase, the so-called preliminary testing effort, is aimed at checking radar performance against the RuAFs specification, including detection and tracking ranges and accuracy of positioning information on various target types. This phase commenced in October 2012 and is expected to be concluded in the second half of 2013. The last two phases of the N025s extensive testing effort are known as the special joint testing phase and the interorganisational phase, which will be performed in cooperation with the RuAFs flight testing centre. Upon successful completion, the radar will be declared ready to enter production and approved for installation on the productionstandard Mi-28N.

MISSING OUT However, the NO25s development and testing has proven to be a protracted undertaking, and production Mi-28Ns have been delivered to the RuAF without the radar around 60 Mi-28Ns have already been taken on strength by RuAF Army Aviation. These helicopters, however, feature provision for retrofitting the radar at a later stage during their main overhaul at Rostvertol, expected to commence from 2015. The NO25 is also being actively promoted for the Mi-28NE, the export derivative, and the radars export version will be designated the N025E. There is also vastly improved derivative of the N025 in an initial phase of development at GRPZ for installation on the Mi-28Ns enhanced version, designated the Mi-28NM. It will feature new operating modes and a shortened scan rate in the air-to-air mode, as well as a full-scale weather detection capability and a newly added identification friend or foe mode. DH

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Volume 32 Number 5 | September/October 2013 | Defence Helicopter



Major General William T Crosby, US Army Program Executive Ofcer, Aviation, talks to Scott R Gourley about the future composition of rotary-wing assets in the service.

Downturn dilemmas
uring a recent discussion with Defence Helicopter, Crosby talked about programme priorities and the technologies necessary to support the future of army aviation. Within the programmes themselves, we are obviously scaling back production rates and modernisation of ECPs [engineering change proposals] in order to keep the big gain programmes funded, he said. Crosby offered the current multi-year contracts on Chinook and Black Hawk as examples of those efforts. Between the two of them, we are saving over $1.5 billion by doing the multi-year. So weve got to preserve those. TWO-FOLD APPROACH Asked how the drawdown in Afghanistan might impact future decisions, he pointed to a two-fold effort. First, I have a responsibility to help train the Afghans. Were doing that through our Non Standard Rotary Wing office, working heavily to help the theatre command provide them with the aircraft and equipment to do it, he said. But the second part is that as you come home your op tempo is going to go down, which means a downturn in the needs of production rates for sustainment parts and those types of things in our industrial base. We have to accurately be able to forecast to them not only what the impact of this downturn in finances is, but also the downturn in op tempo. He continued: Im worried about all of the industrial base, but Im not as worried about the big guys like Boeing, Sikorsky, BAE Systems and those sized companies as I am about their thirdand fourth-tier vendors. In a tough economy, if we cant accurately forecast and help them manage the downturn, we could lose some of those vital suppliers to our industrial base. So weve got

to get better at being able to forecast to them what our needs are going to be in this downturn environment or we could lose some of those companies, which could then significantly impact our abilities to sustain our fleets. Crosby offered that the recent service announcement to reduce the planned acquisition of UH-72A Lakotas had nothing to do with aircraft performance. The Lakota programme has performed magnificently. They have been under cost and ahead of schedule from day one. The aircraft has done exactly what we want it to do. And EADS, in partnering with us and in doing the S&S [security and support] configuration that is helping out the National Guard and Reserve in the border patrol operations and the mission that they have that team has worked very well together. That being said, the army has decided that we need 31 less than [projected in] the original buy. That was what was announced by our chief in his testimony this year. Obviously, that has an impact to their production line. I think thats about one years production, so that... would end about one year earlier than they had planned but it was still scheduled to end. He continued: So what we are committed to do and Im working closely with EADS, our partner in industry is to see if we can help them bridge that gap through FMS, or perhaps another service could use them in an administrative configuration to meet one of their needs. We believe staunchly in the aircraft. It has done everything it was supposed to do. So we are an advocate for others who want to buy it and we will help our partner in trying to keep their production line open. But our production line needs, as decided by the army, are coming to an end.

Looking towards critical future technologies like Future Vertical Lift (FVL), Crosby noted: The easy thing for many people would be to say: We cant afford to be throwing money at FVL. But to steal a phrase from one of my brothers at Fort Rucker: If we hadnt had people with strategic vision who looked to the future, we would have gone to Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Hueys and Cobras. Instead, we went with Apaches and Black Hawks and modernised Chinooks that were dominant on the battlefield. So weve got to look to the future. We cant rest on our laurels. So thats why weve pushed hard collectively to go after that FVL capability we need. Remember that my Chinooks are 50 years old; Black Hawks are 40; and the Apaches are in the same range. Even though we are putting new airframes on them through the modernisation effort, its still the old technology. So Fort Rucker, to their credit, is looking to the future. WORDS OF CAUTION Returning to a budgetary theme, Crosby cautioned: We have to be stewards of the taxpayers dollars you have to be able to quantify the cost of speed, loiter time, high/hot and range, and then make your trades. Regarding industry partners, he offered: What we can ill afford to do is have them continue to throw resources against something were not going to do. And our leadership is strongly against starting something if we cant show that we can fund it all the way through. Thats what has taken so long for the [Armed Aerial Scout] decision. Believe me, the army is not ignoring it. They are trying to make it. But they want to make it with eyes wide open about what the budget landscape is going to be. DH


Defence Helicopter | September/October 2013 | Volume 32 Number 5

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