Apache Attack helicopters reduce vulnerability with new Ground Fire Acquisition System


April 30, 2011

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Firing a rifle at a Longbow Apache Attack helicopter in the hope of claiming a US$8 million scalp with a 50 cent bullet might not be a very good idea for too much longer - unless you like keeping company with a Hellfire missile.

The rapid evolution of military weaponry is a fascinating, if not frightening development to watch, particularly now that the battlefield is becoming increasingly networked.

One such advance due for deployment on the U.S. Army's Longbow Apache Attack helicopters within the next twelve months is a networked Ground Fire Acquisition System (GFAS). The AH-64 has long had passive infrared countermeasures, but the GFAS is an offensive targeting system. It uses infrared cameras to detect muzzle flashes from ground fire, routes the information through the Apache's Aircraft Gateway Processor and displays the location and distance of the shooters as an icon on the pilot's display screen.

Not only does this enable the aircrew to immediately move their Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensors onto the target at the touch of a button for immediate prosecution, it also offers the same information to ground forces via the net-centric battlefield information system, giving everyone in the fight vastly improved situational awareness.

GFAS also fully integrates with all existing communications systems currently in use and can transmit the location of the fire threat to another aircraft, a tactical Operations Center as well as to ground forces.

Current acoustic sensor capability cannot pinpoint an enemy fire target zone better than an area about the size of ten football fields. GFAS can detect weapon fire detection in light and dark conditions across a 120 degree field of view within a five meter target zone, well before the sound of the enemy weapon reaches the on-board sensors.

The most remarkable aspect of the implementation is that the aircraft's software does not require any changes for the initial implementation, and pending successful user evaluation, GFAS' capabilities will be further expanded by integrating Blue Force Tracker display screens. The first Apache attack helicopters to deploy GFAS will be those of 1-101 Aviation based in Fort Campbell some twelve months from now, significantly reducing the vulnerability of the relatively slow, low-flying Boeing AH-64 Apache in combat.


Now if we could just get 60MPG cars or maybe lower our health insurance rates.

Mark A

This is 20 year old news. The new stuff is too scary for public consumption. Basically it is a very bad time to be Taliban right now.


Remember the days when Gizmag comments were by the Technically competent and not the politically naive with cups overflowing with pointless and misplaced rhetoric - ah those were the days...

And for the record - to drag this vaguely back onto a technical footing - there are lots of cars capable of doing 60MPG, but most American\'s refuse to drive them (I lived in the US in 1999 and drove a gas guzzling Oldsmobile from Avis, because it\'s all I could get). Here in the UK my 7 year old Vauxhall (GM) Astra regularly does 60 MPG, but it\'s only 1.7Ltr Diesel - an engine capacity and fuel choice sneered at by most American\'s I\'ve worked with over the years.


This capability sounds good to me, I\'m guessing anyone in a helicopter who doesn\'t like being shot at likes the idea too. As for 60mpg diesel engines, I think Americans would like them fine, but the manufacturers have to actually sell them here; for whatever reason most of the manufacturers who offer diesel vehicles overseas refuse to do so here (case in point overseas gets the fuel efficient and incredibly fun Toyota HiLux the states, we get the gas guzzling Tacoma, which while resembling the HiLux, is not the same animal).

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