The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to BAE Systems to develop the next generation Multi-Function Radio Frequency (MFRF) Advanced Rotary Wing Multifunction Sensor (ARMS) system for helicopter operations.
The $34m contract is awarded as part of the agency's ARMS programme, which is a key element of the overall Integrated Threat Management System that provides aircrews with real-time situational understanding of threats including terrain obstacles, other aircraft, cables and enemy munitions.
BAE Systems Technology Solutions vice president and general manager Dave Logan said the ARMS system is based on the silicon-based phased array technology and will help solve the cause of helicopter-related casualties.
The MFRF ARMS system is designed to increase the helicopter's survivability in degraded visual environments (DVE), while enhancing platform lethality and minimising size, weight, power and cost.
Designed to facilitate safe take-off and landing in brownout or whiteout conditions, the multi-functional system also offer further modes for lethality enhancements including targeting, weapons guidance and high bandwidth data communications.
Additional advantages of the MFRF system include cable and obstacle avoidance, collision avoidance, terrain following/terrain avoidance, weather avoidance, landing zone assessment and ground mapping.
The system features a highly-modular and scalable W-band Active Electronically Steered Array (AESA), that includes over 10,000 elements and is built from silicon transmit/receive tile containing 16 elements and beamformer electronics in a single chip.
The resulting software-programmable, AESA-based radar/sensor can be scaled up or down across a wide range of aperture sizes.
A software developer's kit will be designed by the company that will allow the system developers to rapidly define and programme new radar modes into the sensor.
Led by BAE Systems, the research team also includes Mustang Technology Group, Honeywell Aerospace Defense & Space, Applied Signal Intelligence and the University of Michigan.
Image: BAE's ARMS system will enable safe helicopter take-off and landing in brownout or whiteout conditions. Photo: BAE Systems.