Army Ready to Upgrade AH-64E Apache Sensors


The U.S. Army hopes to equip its first unit of Apache helicopters with the newest daytime sensors by this time next year.

The Apache Sensors Product Office recently accepted delivery of Lockheed Martin’s new Modernized Day Sensor Assembly Laser Rangefinder Designator, or LRFD, the first component to be fielded in the Modernized Day Sensor Assembly.

The modernized LRFD is the first phase of upgrades for the M-DSA program, and will provide enhanced performance to the MTADS/PNVS system, Army officials maintain.

“This laser kit, what we call M-DSA phase one, is an investment by the Army and the Program Executive Office for Aviation, and we’re looking forward to the reliability and maintainability improvements that this laser will bring to the MTADS system,” said  Lt. Col. Steven Van Riper, product manager for Apache Sensor, in an Army press release. “The maintainers will have less of a burden when it comes to keeping the system up and fully operational, while our aircrews will be able to reap the benefits of the performance improvements.”

The new sensors are part of a duel contract the Army awarded to Lockheed Martin in February worth $162 million.

The current laser features a tactical wavelength in the system, Cold War technology that’s expensive to maintain. The new laser incorporates a second EyeSafe wavelength, the newest technology available. It replaces the old flash lamp technology to a more reliable, more robust diode pump laser technology.

The diode pump is the primary driver of increasing the Army’s reliability and maintainability numbers, Army officials maintain. Phase one will be fielded later this year and will be fully capable by 2016, according to Matt Hoffman, director of MTADS/PNVS programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

The Army’s goal is to retrofit the M-DSA and equip the AH-64E Apache units first.

The second phase, scheduled to begin in 2016, will include all the remaining elements in the DSA such as a high definition color television, laser pointer marker, upgraded laser spot tracker, and a state-of-the-art inertia measuring unit for stability and extended range in the system.

“We are meeting all of our milestones in terms of production ramp rate, moving towards maintaining our production rate of over 20 lasers per month,” Van Riper said. “We’re stepping up to that incrementally using a very deliberate production engineering process.”

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Matt Cox
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  • jamesb

    ……Airwolf lives……

  • blight_

    “Tactical wavelength”?

  • hibeam

    I don’t think we can call it the Apache anymore. The AH-64E Indigenous American.

  • Lance

    So even before the AH-64E enters service they upgrade them.

  • jamesb

    Gotta get that money……

  • hardmack

    All that matter is does this make it easier for them to upload cool guy videos onto live leak for me to watch?

  • david

    Still waiting for phasers and quantum torpedos ;)

  • sean

    Will these Apaches have transmissions? haha

  • Edward Snowden

    Can they install the latest version of PRISM also ?

  • Eric Pope
  • Eric Pope
  • hibeam

    The real question is can these be used without startling a civilian? Otherwise the Commander in Golf will not allow them to be used to protect our troops in combat.

  • sean

    Let’s hope these new Apaches won’t be used to overthrow another arab ruler and replace him with a islamic wacko like Obama has done in libya and egypt.

    • AAA

      Please tell me you’re not that obtuse with regards to foreign affairs. Did Obama make it rain on you this week as well?

    • blight_

      Funny, I thought Gaddafi and Mubarak were overthrown by partisans and rabble.

      In the case of Gaddafi, it was because his military melted away. In the other, because they didn’t intervene.

    • wpnexp

      No, he will foment a revolution, allow the islamic wackos take over via a rigged election, then sell them the Apaches, saying he is supporting democracy.

  • Nick

    Apaches and every other type aircraft gets upgrades all the time, but we can’t get upgraded rifles for us Grunts…

    • Nick
  • livefrombg

    Bummer. Seems like they should leave the original laser in production and just issue glasses that our troops can wear that will filter out the wavelength. Gives the Apache one more “weapon” to shine in a haji’s eyes to cause a casualty.

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