Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control delivered the first AAQ-30 target sensor system (TSS) on 30 June for the US Marine Corps' Bell AH-1Z attack helicopter.
The milestone marked the handover of the first of 15 TSS payloads currently on contract, but ultimately up to 226 are planned for acquisition to equip the entire AH-1Z fleet, says Col Harry Hewson, programme manager for the USMC's light and attack helicopters.
The AAQ-30 introduces a powerful forward-looking infrared sensor with a colour TV display and a range that is greater than four times the current sensor aboard the AH-1W Cobra.
Unlike the AH-1W's federated sensor, which is disconnected from other cockpit systems, the AAQ-30 is fully integrated into the AH-1Z's mission systems and flight computers, Hewson says.
The first production model also resolves hardware glitches that plagued the reliability of systems in tests described in a report last year by the US Government Accountability Office, Hewson says.
Lockheed's TSS has also been selected as the sensor system for some of the US Special Operations Command's Lockheed AC-130U gunships, and remains a candidate for additional gunship platforms.