Apache eyes

Illustration by Mercè Iglesias
Date:20 May 2012 Tags:, ,

Attack-helo pilots gain direct control of UAVs. By Joe Pappalardo

Human-robot teamwork has reached a deadly new level. Upgrades to the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter have enabled its airborne pilots to control unmanned aerial vehicles and use the UAVs’ video and targeting data to launch a missile attack. Combat deployment could come in 2013.

1 The UAV tracks the target for the helicopter, which loiters out of visual range.

2 The pilot verifies the target using live video feeds from the UAV.

3 The UAV beams ballistic information – temperature, wind and the target’s range and speed – to the Apache’s firecontrol computer.

4 The attack-helicopter pilot, still safely out of sight, shoots the target.

Other upgrades
NEW GEAR IS ALLOWING APACHES TO FLY, FIGHT AND LAND MORE SAFELY.

ENGINE
General Electric’s 701Ds offer a 5 per cent power boost and more durability while running hot.

ROTORS
Composite rotor blades help increase the Apache’s speed, climb rate and payload.

TRANSMISSION
The 2 540-kW drive system, with a splittorque face-gear transmission, provides more power than current Apaches.

LANDING GEAR
Enhanced hydraulic struts adjust to the weight load of the aircraft and help control deceleration during a touchdown.

Video: Click Constructing the first AH-64D Apache Block III [time-lapse video] to watch a time-lapse video of Boeing employees producing the first AH-64D Apache Block III – and of the helicopter’s first flight.