“No. Even if you only utilized half of the improvements, the V6 aircraft is substantially more capable than previous versions of the E model.”

“Absolutely not.”

That’s the responses from two Apache pilots on whether they would go back to flying the attack helicopter without the latest version 6 upgrades, particularly the Modernized Day Sensor Assembly (M-DSA).

As part of the U.S. Army fleet receiving the latest AH-64E version 6 apaches (V6), these pilots are among the first to experience the new Lockheed Martin sensor and radar technology upgrades, including M-DSA.

With M-DSA, Apache pilots can see threats more easily without having to put in the extra effort.

“The MDSA, and several of the software changes overall make the system more intuitive, saving time and effort, which allows me and my peers to spend more energy and time focused outside and on the bigger picture of where the aircraft is in time and space,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW-2) Logan Featherston, a C Company pilot from the 1-229 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion (ARB).

M-DSA is an update to the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight / Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) system. Configuring the M-TADS/PNVS with the M-DSA system – now termed Gen III TADS/PNVS – enables pilots to see either color or near-infrared high-resolution imagery on cockpit displays, providing even greater accuracy, clearer resolution, increased range and improved safety.  

M-TADS/PNVS

Provides pilotage & targeting during day, night & adverse weather conditions.

Providing Apache pilots with greater accuracy, clearer resolution, increased range and improved safety.

“The MDSA is a real game changer,” said CW-4 Sven Anderson, a Battalion Standardization Instructor pilot. “MDSA is putting the Apache into a position where our sensors are out ranging our weapon systems. We can identify targets before we are even in range to shoot them which allows us to better leverage long range precision fires from other platforms and reduce our signature.”

Increased range is a crucial tactical capability that leads to the successful missions the Apache aircrews fly. M-DSA includes color and near-infrared cameras that provide high-definition video so that pilots can recognize targets and threats at further ranges, and the XR extended range with picture-in-picture display feature allows co-pilots to identify targets at twice the previous range while maintaining situational awareness.

Innovative Day Sensor Capabilities

Color and NIR cameras provide high-definition video for improved recognition at longer ranges

Innovative Day Sensor Capabilities

XR® Extended range with picture-in-picture display allows co-pilot to identify targets at twice the previous range while maintaining situation awareness

Near-Infrared
Color
Daytime color-HD display plus XR® zoom and picture-in-picture capability
Low-light Near IR HD display using XR® zoom and picture-in-picture capability

Innovative Capabilities, allowing pilots to see further to fly, fight and survive.

“The addition of Near-Infrared (NIR) Signature, and color vision for the Gunner makes target discriminations much easier, minimizing miscommunications within the cockpit, team, or platoon,” said Featherston. “It fills in critical details about the target, and area around it that we didn’t previously have, minimizing the risks of an engagement.”

M-DSA also provides a unique combination of multiple lasers, giving pilots greater identification capabilities for cooperative engagements with other Apaches or ground units. A laser pointer marker allows pilots to automatically scan battlefields to detect and track a designated laser from another Apache or ground unit. A two-color eye-safe laser provides tactical ranging near ground troops and training in various environments.

“The big difference [with V6] is now you have improved capabilities when you are on a tactical mission,” said Anderson. “A number of the upgrades allow for improved quality of training, like the eye-safe laser, not just improved quality on the battlefield.”

Greater capabilities for cooperative engagements to further support the Apache mission.

Gen III TADS/PNVS is not the only Lockheed Martin addition to the V6 aircraft. The weapon sensor system also includes an update to the LONGBOW Fire Control Radar (FCR), the Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometer (M-RFI), as well as enhanced support and sustainment services.

“We’re committed to partnering with the U.S. Army and Apache community to deliver holistic sensor solutions that support the modern warfighter in their mission objectives,” said Jeff White Lockheed Martin business development principle and former Apache pilot. “M-DSA is one of the steps in that evolution toward a modernized ecosystem.”