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Selex to focus on integrated DAS at Old Crows

18th October 2009 - 20:00 by Peter Donaldson in Washington, DC

Selex Galileo, a major world player in the EW business, is to focus on integrated defensive aids suites (DAS) for helicopters at this week’s Association of Old Crows (AOC) annual convention in Washington DC. The show is an opportunity for the company to promote its DAS capabilities to US military helicopter operators, building on its success in integrating its Aircraft Gateway Processor (AGP) into US Army Apaches.

The AGP, which is due to go into service with the Extended Block II AH-64D Apache Longbow variant in 2010, is an independent, sensor-agnostic DAS controller capable of transforming a federated system into a fully integrated DAS, of which it forms the heart by fusing the inputs from a range of sensors including radar warning receivers, laser warning receivers, missile approach warners and launch detectors, enhancing crew situational awareness and controlling countermeasures dispensers and directional IR countermeasures (DIRCM) turrets. Its sensor fusion capability generates what the company calls ‘a unified interpretation of the electromagnetic environment’.

Selex Galileo is currently working under contract to Boeing to deliver 10 AGPs per month towards fulfilment of a contract for more than 200. This follows a three year development programme which will see the AGP rolled out across AH-64D helicopters flown by the US Army and export customers from 2010, Selex Galileo tells Defence Helicopter.

‘Our relationship with Boeing is a privilege, and further success on US helicopter programmes depends on our performance on Apache’, Selex Galileo’s Simon Cooper told Defence Helicopter. ‘We are keenly aware of this.’

The AGP is a spin-off of the Helicopter Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (HIDAS), which is in service with the British Army’s Apache AH Mk1 attack helicopters as well as Greek and Kuwaiti AH-64D Apaches. HIDAS has also been selected by the UK MoD for the AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcats due to enter service with the British Army and the Royal Navy in 2014/15. Within HIDAS, the AGP is known as the DAS Controller (DASC) and resides within the Sky Guardian 2000 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR).

Efforts to sell the complete HIDAS system to the US Army were unsuccessful, but the service’s need for an integrated DAS to replace its current federated system remained. In recognition of this, Boeing and SELEX Galileo began work on a joint programme in early 2006 to develop an intelligent, reprogrammable EW interface for the AH-64D based on the HIDAS DASC. The result, says the company, is a stand-alone, sensor independent DAS controller – the AGP.

A prototype was shipped to Boeing Mesa in Mid 2006 and 3 demonstrations were given to PM Apache and US Army represetatives using Boeing’s Aircraft Integration Laboratory (AIL). It was selected in the same year and a production contract awarded in 2007.

‘Our relationship with Boeing is a privilege, and further success on US helicopter programmes depends on our performance on Apache’, Selex Galileo’s Simon Cooper told Defence Helicopter. ‘We are keenly aware of this.’

Cooper describes the AGP as ‘interface-rich’ because it has 51 discrete inputs and 13 different bus interfaces, enabling it to integrate with many kinds of sensors and control and display systems. 

The AGP’s programmability enables the user to tailor the aircraft’s self-protection capability to the specific mission. This enables it to provides a prioritised tactical response in the manner dictated by its pre-flight message (PFM), which is comprised of mission dependent data from the EW support system. This both reduces crew workload and improves initiation and control of countermeasures.

Because the AGP can act as a stand-alone DAS controller, the DAS can evolve and grow without disturbing the rest of the aircraft’s mission system, says the company.

Flight testing is believed to be imminent at Fort Rucker, Alabama.

‘Future business in the US will depend on many factors, not least our ability to perform as a reliable sub-contractor to Boeing and the feedback received from U.S. Army Apache pilots’, says Cooper.

Other integrated helicopter DAS efforts in the US are focused on the Joint and Allied Threat Awareness System (JATAS) competition being run by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR).

According to NAVAIR: ‘The objective of the overall JATAS effort is to develop a cost effective threat awareness system to enhance aircraft survivability by providing advanced missile warning capability; aircrew warning of laser-based weapon systems such as range finders, illuminators, and beam riders; and a Hostile Fire Indication for small arms, rockets, and other threats. JATAS must interface with existing AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispensing System (CMDS), and be capable of interfacing with a laser based Directed Infrared Countermeasure as part of electronic countermeasures response to attacking infrared missiles. The JATAS will be controlled by the host aircraft’s mission computer with operator interface/control being accomplished via the multifunctional display or a separate control indicator.

‘This anticipated JATAS contract will include supporting the integration of JATAS onto the MV-22B lead platform and developing the interfaces necessary to deploy JATAS to other rotary wing platforms.’

That requirement sounds remarkably similar to the capabilities offered by the AGP.

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