Apache helicopter

Boeing has awarded a contract to Elbit Systems of America for retrofit and modernisation of the mission processor of the US Army’s Block III AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters.

Under the $17.5m contract, Elbit’s Airborne Solutions unit will be responsible for carrying out the technology refresh programme over the next five years.

Elbit Systems of America president and CEO Raanan Horowitz said the Apache Block III mission processor would provide Boeing and the army with enhanced computing power and operational capabilities to deliver advanced technologies to soldiers.

"The refresh and upgrade programme will ensure the Apache takes advantage of the latest processing technology available," Horowitz added.

"The refresh and upgrade programme will ensure the Apache takes advantage of the latest processing technology available."

The full-performance Block III mission processor is designed to provide Apache with an open-system computing architecture that supports integration of current and evolving next-generation technologies, such as new systems, sensors, applications and electronics.

As well as enabling the helicopter’s avionics and mission equipment to conduct sophisticated networking and onboard computing tasks, the processor also provides the basis for implementation of ‘system of systems’ common operating environment (SOSCOE).

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Equipped with 48 processing cores, 80 future growth cores for general purpose processing, four graphics processors, it also features enhanced video processing and additional encoding/decoding capabilities.

Powered by two GE T700-701D engines, the Block III aircraft includes improved digital connectivity, joint tactical radio system, new composite rotor blades, full IFR capability and a VNsight low-light television sensors (LLTV), 30mm chain gun, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods.

The helicopters are also in operational service with several nations worldwide including the UK, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Greece, Kuwait, Egypt and UAE.

Image: A US Army’s AH-64 Apache helicopter during an Apache extraction exercise at Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, Europe. Photo: US Army Sgt Stephen Proctor.