AH-64D Apache helicopter
The US Army AH-64D Longbow Apache Block III (AB3) Project Office has conducted a demonstration of the Apache Block III National Airspace trainer (AB3NAT), designed to enable collective manned-unmanned teaming training (MUM-T) at the campus of University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) in the US.

The AB3NAT is a flexible system that provides MUM-T training by acting as a surrogate trainer without restrictions associated with an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that currently have to operate in a restricted airspace following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules.

The MUM-T allows an Apache and OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot to receive and process real-time video imaging surveillance from a UAS operating in theatre, such as in Afghanistan and also help control its flight path, sensors and cameras.

The trainer also provides options to the helicopter crew such as handing off UAS control to another air or ground-based crew.

The AB3NAT is capable of providing level of interoperability (LOI) 2-4 guide and also help pilot to direct unmanned aircraft 10kms -15kms ahead and maintain a great standoff distance from enemy combatants.

The system can either be used in its current configuration or modified for use on any non-specific army aircraft including the US National Guard (USNG) LUH Lakota helicopter.

The trainer, jointly engineered, developed and tested by the AB3 project office, UAH, and the non-profit Momentum Foundation, will allow both individual and collective training when multiple assets are not organic to one unit.

Initial units of the trainer will be delivered by the end of February 2012, followed by Initial Operational Test & Evaluation (IOT&E) at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, California, US in March-April 2012.

The Limited User Testing required for the low rate initial production (LRIP) for the Block III was conducted in November 2008."

Image: Apache Project Office demonstrates new UAV trainer, designed to enable collective manned-unmanned teaming training.