The US Army has almost completed integration of Lockheed Martin's modernised day sensor assembly (M-DSA) onto the Boeing AH-64E Block III Apache attack helicopter.
"We are in the final stages of integration and development with that system," says Lt Col Steve Van Riper, the US Army project manager for Apache sensors. The first M-DSA sensor is expected to be installed on board an Apache test aircraft in November, he says.
Assuming there are no problems, the aircraft is expected to fly in January 2014. Once testing and operational evaluations are complete, the new sensor would become operational in fiscal year 2018.
The M-DSA will bring high-definition colour video capability to the AH-64E's sensor suite. Its installation is part of a three-phase upgrade to the Apache's Lockheed-built modernised target acquisition designation sight/pilot night vision sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) suite.
The first phase was an improved laser designator, while the second consists of the M-DSA. A third effort will incorporate a training laser.
Col Jeff Hager, US Army project manager for the Apache, says there are no planned upgrades for the forward-looking infrared component of the M-TADS/PNVS. "At this time the user determined to maintain the infrared as a system as it is today," he says.