Raytheon has received a contract to upgrade a new distributed aperture system developed to give helicopter pilots 360° visibility in poor visibility conditions.

A full-up system that includes six cameras embedded into the skin of a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk will be demonstrated within 14 months, says Michael Scrofano, programme manager for the advanced distributed aperture system (ADAS).

The most likely launch customer is the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he adds. But Raytheon plans to offer a scaled-down version with as few as two sensors to other military and civil helicopter operators.

The system also includes a variety of safety tools, including a low-light visibility feature to help the pilot land the helicopter in a brown-out environment, Scrofano says.

Raytheon is also adding a hostile fire indicator, which can visually track sources of gunfire and cue the pilot using a three-dimensional auditory alert system.

Such an alert "brings situational awareness cues up to the pilot in a stereoscopic audio manner", Scrofano says. If a threat is detected down and to the left, the sound of the alert that the pilot hears will come from that direction.

"We have achieved a tremendous amount of traction through 120h of prototype flights done to date," Scrofano says. "So far the feedback has been excellent."

The ADAS system includes a BAE Systems helmet derived from the Eurofighter Typhoon programme, Scrofano says.

Source: Flight International