AH-64D Apache Longbow gets new Arrowhead system
By Mike Hanlon
September 18, 2005
September 19, 2005 Lockheed Martin has delivered the first eight Arrowhead systems for the U.S. Army's Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) program. The Arrowhead unit provides the most advanced electro-optical targeting and pilotage system available to AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter crews for maximizing safe flight in day, night and adverse-weather environments. Arrowhead continues a 23-year legacy of serving as the "eyes" of the Army's AH-64 Apache attack helicopter with the first fielding of the current TADS/PNVS in 1983. Arrowhead's newly designed FLIR sensors and avionics use leading-edge image processing techniques to give pilots the best possible resolution to avoid obstacles such as wires and tree limbs during low-level flight.
"Meeting the M-TADS/PNVS FUE milestone has been an outstanding team effort by Lockheed Martin, Boeing, the U.S. government and all of our suppliers," said Jack McClafferty, Arrowhead program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "The team took on the challenge, and never faltered in its drive to meet the goal of supplying our customer the systems they require."
Meeting a commitment made in December 2003, the Arrowhead team outfitted the first eight Apaches with the new day/night vision system at The Boeing Company's Apache production facility in Mesa, Arizona. The Arrowhead-equipped Apache helicopters departed for Fort Hood in two flights beginning June 23. Following initial differences training at Fort Hood, which covered the operation and maintenance of the 33 new Arrowhead line-replaceable modules, the pilots began flight training. Concurrently, Army personnel are also learning how to maintain the new system. In addition, Army personnel will be trained to upgrade the TADS/PNVS(TM) combat vision system currently on their Apaches within a four-hour timeframe using the Arrowhead kits in the field.
The first Arrowhead M-TADS/PNVS unit for the Modernized AH-64D Apache helicopter was rolled out and presented to the U.S. Army in May 2005 during the annual Army Aviation Association of America Convention held in Orlando, FL. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Edward Sinclair, Commanding General of Fort Rucker, AL, and the Aviation Branch Chief, was the keynote speaker at the roll-out ceremony. General Sinclair said during his speech, "M-TADS/PNVS is transforming aviation and meeting warfighter needs."
Arrowhead extends optical targeting ranges and reliability by a factor of two, while significantly reducing mainte?nance actions. Warfighters will also benefit from quick-access "remove-and-replace" modules that will reduce maintenance to two levels and save nearly $1 billion in Army operation and support costs over the 20-year life of the Arrowhead system.
In addition to the U. S. Army order, the United Kingdom and six undisclosed international customers have the Arrowhead upgrades on contract, with three others expected.