The U.S. Army is searching for contractors interested in working on a four-year project (starting during the current fiscal year) to develop and demonstrate a multi-spectral sensor to help its helicopter pilots fly safely in degraded visual environments (DVE).
The service posted a request for information July 8 on sources capable of crafting an integrated system that fuses a “forward-looking sensor suite” with “a distributed aperture system” to provide “spherical coverage for situational awareness” through “a seamless, head-tracked image” that Army aviators could use to fly safely—in all phases of flight—through such conditions as brownout, fog, smoke and rain.
Ideally, the resulting system would include a threat-warning capability. The sensor suite would include a co-located long-wave infrared camera, lidar and radar whose outputs would be meshed with each other, the aircraft navigation system and existing terrain and image databases. The resulting system “must be interoperable with state-of-the-art Army aviation display technology,” including helmet-mounted displays and multifunction displays.
Earlier this year, Army leaders were briefed on an analysis of alternatives (AoA) for managing DVE hazards. The AoA was conducted last year under the Brownout Rotorcraft Enhancement System (BORES) initiative. Budget constraints had led Army leaders to put off fielding DVE aid sensors until the first Future Vertical Lift aircraft enter the fleet in 2020-2030. But Army aviation leaders want a solution sooner.