Israeli Tactical Video Link, Helmet Displays Improve Situational Awareness U.S. Marines Gunships

U.S. Marine Corps AH-1W attack helicopters will significantly improve the situational awareness of gunship crews. Two systems being delivered by Elbit Systems of America provide these enhancements - the new Tactical Video Data-Links and Helmet Display & Tracker system (HDTS). Following the upgrade, to be performed in 2010, air crews flying these advanced Cobra gunships will be able to access real-time imagery obtained from UAVs, aircraft targeting pods and ground based sensors. On board video imagery could also be shared with other units, improving shared battlespace awareness and accelerating engagement of illusive 'time critical targets'. Better communications between the crew members will also accelerate and improve target engagement and reduce workload in the cockpit. (read more...)

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The USMC will employ the AN/ACQ-9 Tactical Video Data Links (TVDL) to be delivered by Elbit Systems of America under a $15.6 million contract awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). The Navy has evaluated the system in 2008, and has recently contracted Elbit in response to an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) from the Marines in Afghanistan. The systems are planned to be operational in USMC fleet helicopters by the end of FY2010. A similar capability is already available with the VUIT-2 system employed with the U.S. Army Apaches and Israel Air Force attack helicopters.

The compact and lightweight AN/ACQ-9 employs an analog video link specially designed for the combat helicopter environment. The system weighs only 8.5 pounds (4 kg) comprising the receiver, transmitter, controller and two antennas, providing full hemispherical coverage. Real-time video images are displayed directly in front of the aircrew, saving the need for lengthy and cumbersome radio dialogue with a intermediate levels. Live video contributes to creating a common visual language amongst all forces in the battlespace and dramatically shortening the sensor-to-shooter loop. The system can also be employed as a video relay, transmitting the receiving video and data for enhanced co-ordination and battle management.

Under a separate contract Elbit Systems will further mprove the situational awareness of the AH-1W crew through the retrofit of current ANVIS/HUD pilot vision system with Helmet Display and Tracker System (HDTS). The program is valued at $8.2 million and will also extends through 2010. The HDTS system increases situational awareness and safety by allowing pilots to fly head out of the cockpit during day and night operations. HDTS combines with Other Pilot Line of Sight (OPLOS) information, further increasing crew situational awareness and effectiveness, while reducing workload.

On both programs Elbit Systems of America has partnered with and Florida based Service Support Associates Inc. (SSAI) for the engineering services and implementation of the systems with the U.S. Marines helicopters.

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Tactical Video Receiver display pannel installed in the Cobnra cockpit. Photo: Tadiran Spectralink

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