Raytheon will get $37.4 million from the US Army to dramatically improve the common sensor payload (CSP) for unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based defence contractor will integrate high definition detectors into the AN/AAS-53 CSP for better image quality and increased target location accuracy.

Raytheon let slip plans to upgrade the sensor nearly a year ago by way of job advertisement for a programme manager. But it is not clear if the award is as sweeping as the 2009 plans to install the improved system on the more than 100 sensors then already in production, as well as new ones as they are built.

The 8 September agreement calls for Raytheon to deliver eight upgraded CSP configuration systems by December 2012 after designing, building and testing the new CSP.

The army awarded Raytheon the CSP contract in November 2007 to install the sensor on its General Atomics MQ-1C Grey Eagle UAV and Bell ARH-70 Arapaho armed reconnaissance helicopters.

The service cancelled the helicopter programme in October 2008, leaving the MQ-1C the only current platform to carry the CSP, though it has been discussed as a payload for the Arapaho replacement, the armed aerial scout.

Source: Flight International