US Army <a href=Apache helicopters” height=”197″ src=”” style=”padding: 10px” width=”300″ />Lockheed Martin has awarded a contract to SELEX Galileo to upgrade the laser targeting capabilities of Apache helicopters belonging to the US Army.

The €18m ($23.5m) deal was awarded after SELEX successfully carried out the development contract for a modernised laser rangefinder/designator (M-LRFD).

Lockheed, serving as a prime contractor, was awarded a three-year contract in September 2008 to modernise the Apache’s legacy day sensor assembly (DSA) and associated electronics.

SELEX Galileo Radar and Advanced Targeting SVP Alastair Morrison said: "The US Army is well known for demanding equipment that meets exact specifications and it is a source of pride that our lasers will be helping them carry out their vital missions around the world."

The LRFDs provide improved targeting with accurate range data for aiming and also help the pilot to designate an aim point by means of a laser for the Hellfire II missiles, while the modernised DSA (M-DSA) LRFD provides an eye-safe laser for conducting safe training exercises.

"It is a source of pride that our lasers will be helping the US Army carry out their vital missions around the world."

The M-LRFD lasers allow Apache helicopter pilots to perform long-range precision targeting, which enables them to remain unreachable from enemy weapons.

Under Modernised Target Acquisition Designation Sight (M-TADS) upgrade programme, SELEX is also supplying an initial undisclosed number of the lasers to Lockheed.

The M-TADS/PNVS, also called Arrowhead, is an advanced electro-optical fire control system in operation with the army since 2005 and provides Apache pilots with advanced targeting capability for conducting day, night and adverse-weather missions.

More than 4,500 lasers have been sold by SELEX to more than 25 countries, while the integration of the technology has been completed on around 40 platforms across air, land and sea.

Image: Two US Army Apache helicopters powered by two General Electric T700 turboshaft engines take off. Photo: courtesy of jamesdale10.