Lockheed Martin recently is introducing a new sensor into the Modernized-Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-PNVS) sensor system used on the AH-64D Apache attack helicopter. The new Visible/Near Infrared (V/NIR) sensor will gain significant tactical advantages for Army pilots using the system, enabling the crew to better cope with night flying, targeting and coordination with friendly forces over light intensive environment, such as an urban area, by displaying visible or near-visible light sources that may not be clearly indicated by thermal imagers.
The system also improves the coordination of activities with ground troops. By blending V/NIR sensor imagery with M-PNVS forward looking infrared (FLIR) the Apache crew obtains improve situational awareness in low light-level conditions. The sensor will also allow aviators to see laser pointers, improving coordination with ground units. Follow-on qualification and flight tests are scheduled for later this year to complete the development program.
The integration required design and installation of a new lens and repackaging of six engineering units that will be used to meet Apache flight environment requirements. If proven successful, follow-on production contracts could follow within few months to begin equipping up to 10 battalions (240 helicopters) with the new system by early 2009.
Lockheed Martin is developing the V/NIR under a $9.4 million funding award in 2007 for the proof-of-principle phase for the M-TADS/PNVS by the Apache Program Executive Office in Huntsville, AL.