During a ceremony held at AgustaWestland's Yeovil facility today, the first two Apache AH Mk.1s equipped with a new sighting and targeting system were handed over to the UK Ministry of Defence, following the achievement of Release to Service on 14th November 2008.
The sighting and targeting system, known as M-TADS/PNVS (Modernised Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor) along with TEDAC (TADS Electronic Display and Control) will provide Apache AH Mk.1 crews with greater situational awareness and combat effectiveness. Additionally the new system will also deliver significant whole life cost savings over the service life of the aircraft.
The M-TADS Contract has been an excellent example of industry (AgustaWestland, Lockheed Martin, Boeing and QinetiQ) and the Ministry of Defence teams working as partners to benefit the performance and flexibility of a project.
Nick Whitney, Senior Vice President - UK Government Business, AgustaWestland said at the handover ceremony, "I am delighted to be handing over the first two M-TADS equipped Apaches ahead of schedule, as we know the Apache crews and the troops on the ground on overseas operations will welcome the capability improvements the M-TADS system delivers.”
He went on to say "This programme is one where industry and the Ministry of Defence have worked together as true partners to deliver a programme on budget while achieving such important milestones ahead of schedule - I would like to congratulate all those involved.”
Air Commodore Doug Whittaker, Attack Helicopter IPT Leader, said, “I am very pleased to be taking delivery of the first two M-TADS upgraded Apache aircraft today from the Industry team, and to be handing them onto the Apache Force Commander for service use. In addition to substantial whole life cost savings and improvements in reliability, M-TADS will provide substantial benefits to Apache aircrew. It further enhances the outstanding capabilities of the aircraft.”
Accepting the introduction of the M-TADS Release to Service earlier this month, Apache Force Commander Col David Turner said “The introduction of M-TADS will realise many benefits across the AH Force. It will not only improve our military capability but will also remove the logistic and support penalties associated with the current system. We very much welcome its early introduction into service and aim to deploy M-TADS on operations at the first available opportunity. The AH Force see M-TADS as a major step forward.”
M-TADS/PNVS extends the optical targeting ranges and is expected to increase by a factor of three the overall system’s reliability, significantly reducing maintenance. The new system also features quick-access “remove-and-replace” modules that reduce maintenance and contribute to the whole life cost savings.
The newly designed FLIR sensors and avionics use the very latest image processing techniques to give the aircrew the best possible resolution images to help avoid obstacles, such as wires and trees, during nap of the earth flight.
AgustaWestland was awarded a £194 million contract in May 2005 to undertake the integration and testing of the new system on the Apache AH Mk.1 and to retrofit the entire fleet of 67 aircraft. The retrofit programme is set to commence on schedule on 27th November at Wattisham, the Main Operating Base for Apache, and all aircraft will be upgraded by the end of 2010.