The U.S. Army awarded Boeing a $234 million foreign military sales contract to supply 24 AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopters to Saudi Arabia, affirming a long pending order. The Department of Defense announced the contract award on August 29; the estimated contract completion date is Dec. 31, 2016.
The U.S. Army’s 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB), based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, has fielded the latest model Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopter in Afghanistan with impressive results, Army and Boeing officials said. The deployment has also afforded the “Tigersharks” an opportunity to direct unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) using the AH-64E’s UAS tactical datalink.
MD Helicopters showed off its prototype MD540A armed scout helicopter last week at the Sofex show in Jordan, marking the type’s first appearance outside the U.S. The choice of venue was made to highlight the type’s credentials in an area where its hot-and-high performance is of considerable interest, at a show where its special-forces support capability is highly relevant, and in a country that has a requirement for a new armed helicopter.
Boeing said that it recently flew its AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter for the first time in production configuration. Flight status moves the program “another step closer to full-scale production,” the manufacturer said on May 1.
Boeing said on December 13 that it demonstrated an unmanned Little Bird helicopter for the Republic of Korea Army. The MD 500 variant flew for about 25 minutes at the army’s aviation school in Nonsan, South Korea.
Honeywell plans to provide the Zing Test Elite rotor track-and-balance maintenance technology to MD Helicopters to support all current and new MD500 series helicopters. Based on the Zing HUMS 1134 on-board system, Zing Test Elite is a carry-on system that quickly provides the ability to perform helicopter rotor smoothing, engine refining performance checks, component balancing, and vibration surveys to save time, fuel and maintenance costs.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is continuing to expand the capabilities of the Boeing AH-64D Apache Block III attack helicopter with sensor upgrades, a new weapon option and greater networking capabilities. The latter is being achieved through the Longbow unmanned aerial system tactical common data link assembly (UTA), a product of Longbow LLC (a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman).
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control is continuing to expand the capabilities of the Boeing AH-64D Apache Block III attack helicopter with sensor upgrades, a new weapon option and greater networking capabilities.
A heavy unmanned helicopter would be invaluable for operations at highly dangerous sites, such as the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, providing another avenue to address the problem with a greater measure of safety. Technology for pilotless rotorcraft is already in place but so far has been applied only to micro drones and relatively light rotorcraft.
Piasecki Aircraft and Carnegie Mellon University have successfully flight tested a new navigation and sensor package on an unmanned Boeing AH-6 Little Bird helicopter that allows it to autonomously avoid dynamic, low-altitude obstacles, select suitable unmapped landing sites, and land using self-generated approach paths.
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