Apache Block III Longbow helicopter.

The Lockheed Martin-Northrop Grumman joint venture, Longbow Limited Liability, has been awarded a contract to deliver radars and data link systems for the US Army’s latest AH-64D Apache Block III Longbow helicopter.

Under the $181m contract, the company will develop and supply Block III Longbow fire control radar (FCR) units, 18 radar electronic units (REU), 14 unmanned aerial system tactical common data link assembly (UTA) systems and spares to equip the Block III Apache fleet. The contract also includes delivery of 15 FCR units to Taiwan.

The FCR enables automatic and rapid multi-target engagement by the Apache and helps in detection, location, classification and prioritisation of the target in all weather conditions over multiple terrains using a self-contained Radar Frequency Interferometer. The radar is capable of easily integrating with the aircraft’s Hellfire missile, thereby greatly increasing its lethality and survivability, while the radar electronic units will reduce the size, weight, maintenance and power requirements of the radar system.

The Block III UTA offers a two-way, high-bandwidth data link, which helps aircrew to control Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ (UAS) flight path, sensors and lasers at longer ranges and also provides high-quality UAS imagery on displays.

The AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine army attack helicopter armed with 16 Hellfire missiles and integrated sensors, networking and digital communications to provide situational awareness for ground commanders. The helicopter has been deployed by the army in Afghanistan as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has supported low-intensity and peacekeeping operations worldwide.

Work on the contract, including mission equipment and spares production as well as engineering and integrated logistics services, will be carried out at Lockheed’s facilities in Ocala and Orlando, in Florida, and at Northrop’s facilities in Baltimore, Maryland, US. The contract includes options to extend the performance period from 2015 to 2017 and deliveries are scheduled to commence in late 2012.

Image: Longbow will supply radars and data link systems for the US Army’s AH-64 Apache Longbow attack helicopter armed with 16 Hellfire missiles.