U.S. Army acquiring ‘brown-out’ assistance for helos

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The U.S. Army is in the ear­ly stages of respond­ing to an Oper­a­tional Needs State­ment ask­ing for high-tech assis­tance for pilots to bet­ter nav­i­gate “brown-out” con­di­tions where ter­rain becomes obscured.

 -
Spc. Jose Palomi­no, Spc. James Cobb, and Spc. Ken­neth Waller, look at a mod­i­fied M240 machine gun that is mount­ed in a mock-up door frame from a CH-47 Chi­nook heli­copter dur­ing the 2011 Army Avi­a­tion Asso­ci­a­tion of America’s Annu­al Pro­fes­sion­al Forum and Expo­si­tion in Nashville, Tenn. The M240’s tur­ret mount has been mod­i­fied to ensure the weapon does­n’t hit the win­dow frame
Click to enlarge

The Army plans to acquire five high-tech, 94 Giga­hertz mil­lime­ter wave radar sys­tems called Heli­copter Autonomous Land­ing Sys­tems, ser­vice offi­cials said April 3 at the 2012 Army Avi­a­tion Asso­ci­a­tion of America’s Pro­fes­sion­al Forum and Exhi­bi­tion in Nashville.

The sys­tems will help pilots nav­i­gate through what’s referred to as a Degrad­ed Visu­al Envi­ron­ment, or DVE, said Col. Antho­ny Potts, project man­ag­er, Avi­a­tion Sys­tems.

The idea for the DVE radar, which emerged out of a spe­cial­ly-formed Heli­copter Sur­viv­abil­i­ty Task Force start­ed in 2009, is to lever­age the best exist­ing tech­nolo­gies able to help pilots nav­i­gate through obscured or “brown-out” con­di­tions as a path toward con­duct­ing a Lim­it­ed User Assess­ment of the tech­nol­o­gy by the end of next year, Potts explained.

The efforts of the task force result­ed in a study titled U.S. Army Pro­gram Exec­u­tive Office Avi­a­tion Report and Rec­om­men­da­tions on Ter­rain Aware­ness Aspects of Rotor­craft Mishaps in Degrad­ed Visu­al Envi­ron­ments, Aug. 11, 2011.

“We made a deter­mi­na­tion with­in that study, the great­est threat to our air­craft was what’s called Degrad­ed Visu­al Envi­ron­ment. This refers to when a pilot’s approach to the land­ing zone in desert con­di­tions becomes what is com­mon­ly referred to as a “brown out,” where pilots lose their visu­al ref­er­ence with the ground,” Potts added.

The dan­ger of a DVE, Potts explained, is when pilots lose their sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness regard­ing what’s referred to as the “drift” of an air­frame, where­in an air­craft catch­es or col­lides with the ground or near­by obsta­cle, caus­ing a heli­copter to roll over.

The Rotor­craft Mishaps in DVE study, led by PEO Avi­a­tion with sup­port from the Army’s Avi­a­tion Cen­ter of Excel­lence and the Army Com­bat Readi­ness Cen­ter, Fort Ruck­er, Ala., and the Avi­a­tion and Mis­sile Com­mand, Red­stone Arse­nal, Ala., was geared toward look­ing at ways to help heli­copter pilots min­i­mize or avoid what’s often called Con­trolled Flight Into Ter­rain, Potts said.

The Army, which has bud­get­ed $226 mil­lion for DVE tech­nolo­gies from 2011 to 2015, plans to deliv­er the first five DVE sys­tems with­in 18 to 24 months, he added.

At the same time, PEO Avi­a­tion, Project Man­ag­er Avi­a­tion Sys­tems Pro­gram Office is expect­ing that the field­ing of the first five sys­tems in response to the ONS will help inform a sub­se­quent pro­gram of record for DVE tech­nolo­gies.

“We have an Ini­tial Capa­bil­i­ties Doc­u­ment and we are get­ting ready to pro­duce a Capa­bil­i­ties Devel­op­ment Doc­u­ment. We’re hop­ing for an Mile­stone Devel­op­ment Deci­sion, or MDD by the fourth quar­ter of this year” Potts said.

PEO Avi­a­tion is work­ing with the Spe­cial Oper­a­tions com­mu­ni­ty as well as the Army’s Tech­nol­o­gy Appli­ca­tions Pro­gram Office and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to estab­lish a “back­bone” archi­tec­ture able to accom­mo­date a num­ber of valu­able DVE-type tech­nolo­gies, Potts explained.

“There are a lot of sen­sors out there. We’re work­ing toward a soft­ware back­bone that can become sen­sor agnos­tic so that it is not tied to a spe­cif­ic mate­r­i­al solu­tion. We’ve found some great part­ner­ships,” Potts described.

There is some dis­cus­sion among experts regard­ing which sen­sor might be best suit­ed for DVE-type solu­tions, with poten­tial options includ­ing laser appli­ca­tions, ladar, long wave and infrared radar, Potts said.

“What we’ve found is that the mil­lime­ter wave radar had the best capa­bil­i­ty to pen­e­trate the dust obscu­rants that are in the air. Basi­cal­ly what it does is it paints a pic­ture of the ground in front of you, so that pilots can see the ground from a radar-paint­ed pic­ture,” Potts said. “Also, it will paint an obsta­cle that might be there, whether it’s a Humvee put in your land­ing zone, a ditch or a small hole that your map did­n’t show was there — and it gives you that vis­i­bil­i­ty.”

The Army’s cut­ting-edge air­craft mod­els such as the AH-64 Block III Apache attack heli­copter, UH-60 M‑model Black Hawk util­i­ty heli­copter and the CH 47 F‑model Chi­nook car­go heli­copters all have advanced dig­i­tal flight con­trols and mov­ing map dis­plays bet­ter able to help pilots nav­i­gate, Potts said.

Source:
U.S. Army

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →