Lockheed Martin has flown its Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor (PDAS) system on Bell Helicopter’s next-generation tiltrotor aircraft V-280 Valor for the first time.
The multi-functional sensor system PDAS has been specifically designed for existing and future vertical lift aircraft.
It improves situational awareness for pilots and other users by generating high-resolution, 360° imagery around the aircraft.
While operating in a high-speed, tactically relevant flight environment the system will be able to capture complete spherical infrared imagery and generated real-time imagery.
Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Strategy and Business Development vice-president Rita Flaherty said: “Conducting PDAS flight tests on the V-280 is an exciting first step toward delivering a level of situational awareness unavailable on today’s Army rotorcraft.
“With its embedded, multi-functional sensors, PDAS is the ideal foundation for an integrated survivability suite that will enable Army aircrews to own any environment and universally detect and defeat incoming threats.”
The Lockheed Maritin PDAS system comprises six infrared sensors distributed around the aircraft linked to aircrew helmets and cockpit displays through an open-architecture processor.
At the time of testing, engineers demonstrated the ability of the system to offer simultaneous coverage to multiple independent displays.
At present, the Lockheed Martin PDAS system is generating imagery for two users and will ultimately support up to six users that may include pilots in other aircraft and mission commanders on the ground.
Planned capability upgrades will demonstrate additional integrated survivability suite capabilities such as Multi-Modal Sensor Fusion that combines data from multiple types of sensors and restores aircrew situational awareness, thereby enabling navigation in GPS-denied zones.
The Bell V-280 Valor is a vertical lift aircraft concept that made its first flight in December 2017. While initial designs for the Bell V-280 Valor described it as a utility aircraft, the company is also working on an attack configuration so that the V-280 Valor can be used in battle.
In January 2019, the V-280 Valor successfully reached its optimal cruise speed of 280kn during a flight test at Bell’s Flight Research Center in Texas, US.