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Helicopter Targeting: A Clear Vision

In October 2000, the Army selected the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control’s (LMMFC) innovative Arrowhead design to modernize the Apache Helicopter’s late 1970’s vintage electro-optical targeting and navigation system creating the Modernized Target Acquisition/Designation Sight and Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS).   The Arrowhead kit replaces legacy TADS/PNVS hardware via a field retrofit kit that can be applied on the flightline.  Arrowhead improves system performance and reliability by over 150% and reduces maintenance actions by nearly 60%.  Initially fielded in June 2005, over 1100 systems have been delivered to the US Army and 11 international customers through 2012.
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From an operational perspective, M-TADSPNVS has altered the employment techniques utilized by the Apache Attack Reconnaissance Battalions.  With M-TADS, you are able to detect and positively identify targets at stand-off distances that exceed weapons employment ranges.  Additionally, the improved imagery reduces the risk of fratricide in close combat situations and helps avoid collateral damage in urban settings.  Operating from higher altitudes provides enhanced situational awareness, better look down/shoot down angles, and increased weapons effect while keeping the aircraft outside of small arms and crew-served weapons ranges. M-PNVS dramatically improves pilotage allowing safe operation at terrain flight altitudes during day, night, and/or marginal weather environments under battlefield conditions worldwide.
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As Colonel Shane Openshaw, U.S. Army Project Manager for the Apache said in February 2011, “The M-TADS/PNVS is a game-changer on the battlefield . . . [It] has shown, through over five years of continuous combat operations since the first unit was fielded, that an Apache equipped with M-TADS/PNVS is the most lethal and survivable attack helicopter in the world.”

Sources and Further Reading