Quad A: Apache turret replacement develops
Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control is currently anticipating receipt of a producibility contract for its High Reliability Turret (HRT).
According to Thomas Eldredge, director of the Target Acquisition Designation Sight / Pilot Night Vision Sensor (TADS/PNVS) programmes at Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control, TADS/PNVS was first fielded on the Apache helicopter in the early 1980s and is comprised of three sensors: a pilotage sensor and a targeting sensor that includes both a night sensor and a day sensor.
'All three sensors are mounted to a turret or an aircraft interface structure,' Eldredge explained.
He noted that the first upgrade of the TADS/PNVS system, called an 'Arrowhead' upgrade kit was fielded beginning in 2005 to modernise the FLIR and electronics for the pilotage sensor and night sensor portion of the targeting system. In 2014 the company completed development of a modernised day sensor that is now in production for deliveries that will begin in May 2018.
'That leaves the legacy turret as the last element of the TADS/PNVS system to be modernised,' he said. 'We are currently in development for a replacement to the legacy turret that we call the High Reliability Turret, which provides benefits in terms of performance, reliability and maintainability.'
HRT features a modular design that supports ease of maintenance at the flightline, which Eldredge credited with 'getting Apaches repaired and back in service much faster.'
Additionally, he added that HRT provides improved performance in the areas like targeting at longer ranges and allow the targeting system to move faster, enabling that system 'to keep up with an aviator's head movements.'
Other performance advantages include the elimination of 'overshoot,' where the current turret design might temporarily move beyond the target, mandating tracking back and the possibility of image disruption.
'The HRT algorithms improve that so that there is no overshoot,' he said. 'The sensors stop on a dime.'
Pointing to Lockheed Martin's 'unique understanding of the legacy turret design,' Eldredge said that the company was able to 'design failure modes out of the HRT system.'
The company anticipates receipt of a 'producibility contract' in third quarter of 2017, facilitating incorporation of lessons learned during the HRT development process. Additional timeline milestones include completion of development in April 2018, production start around the middle of 2018 and production deliveries in 2020.
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