Dubai Air Show

LM Pathfinder sees through dust and snow

 - November 13, 2007, 5:25 AM

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is promoting the ability of its Pathfinder thermal imager to provide pilots of support aircraft with the kind of brownout/whiteout imaging currently available to combat crews.

Pathfinder is a long-wave infrared seeker based on the modernized pilot night-vision sensor from the AH-64 Apache’s Arrowhead system. The seeker turret mounts easily on a fixed-wing transport or a helicopter. The system provides a wide-angle (52 degrees) view with high resolution (1728 x 960 pixels), and is based on a SADA (standard advanced dewar assembly) integrated detector cooler assembly. Imagery can be displayed on helmet-mounted or head-up displays.

Demonstrations earlier this year involving a Pathfinder turret mounted on a UH-1 Huey highlighted the system’s ability to see through the billowing dust clouds encountered in desert conditions. Pathfinder also improves situation awareness for formation flying, austere field operations and for helicopters with underslung loads, as well as providing enhanced obstacle awareness during low-level operations.
Other products on display at the Orlando, Florida-based division’s stand (E636) include:

Sniper: an advanced targeting pod now in use with the U.S. Air Force on the F-15E, F-16, B-1B and A-10. It also has been selected by Belgium, Canada, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland and the UK Sniper provides long-distance targeting information, and as well an ability to designate for laser-guided bombs. A video downlink allows joint terminal air controllers on the ground to view imagery in real time.

PAC-3: the latest generation of the Patriot defense system counters tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft with a high-velocity hit-to-kill vehicle. PAC-3 vehicles come in packs of four, with one canister replacing one missile of earlier Patriot generations, thereby increasing the number of missiles for each Patriot system from four to 16. The missile fires toward a pre-plotted intercept point, which can be updated during fly-out by an RF uplink, and guidance works by an inertial system operating aerodynamic controls. As it approaches the theoretical intercept point, the PAC-3 goes active with its Ka-band terminal guidance radar. Short-endurance rocket motors known as attitude control motors (ACMs) provide control.

THAAD: terminal high altitude area defense is a key component of the U.S. Ballistic Missile Defense System. Its hit-to-kill vehicles can be used for both endo- and exo-atmospheric engagements, essentially protecting the space above the PAC-3 engagement zone. The first missile-only flight test was conducted in November 2005, while the first engagement against a threat-representative target was successfully undertaken in June 2006.

GMLRS: with a range of over 70 kilometers the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System is a precision all-weather attack system using rockets launched from vehicles. The GMLRS differs from previous systems by using GPS-aided guidance. The greatly enhanced levels of accuracy reduce the chance of collateral damage, and also the number of rockets that need to be fired to destroy a given target. The system went into full-rate production in December 2005. A development is GMLRS-Unitary, with a 196-pound unitary warhead and tri-mode fuze that gives the option of airburst, point impact or delay modes. Low-rate production was authorized this year. The rocket can be fired from the standard M270A1 MLRS launcher and from the latest HIMARS vehicle.

HIMARS: the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System is the latest variant of the MLRS. It is based on the U.S. Army’s new FMTV 5-ton truck and can launch all members of the MLRS and ATACMS family of rocket/missile systems. It carries a single ATACMS missile or a six-pack of MLRS rockets. HIMARS can be air-transported by a C-130 in combat configuration, allowing it to provide rapid-fire support. It is lighter than the M270 MLRS systems, requiring 30 percent fewer airlift sorties to deploy a battery. The 3rd Battalion of the 27th Field Artillery first fielded HIMARS in May 2005 by Regiment. It has seen service during Operation Iraqi Freedom.