BAE Systems utilised “off-the-shelf” technology garnered from already-fielded systems in developing BLAST, which addresses the urgent need for rotorcraft operation in DVE, such as brownout, fog, and smoke. Helicopter brownout occurs when a pilot loses visual references due to dust or sand re-circulating during take-off or landing, which is a major problem in arid desert terrain. Brownout poses a major safety risk to helicopter operations in desert operations, which the new BLAST system could solve. As allied forces have investigated reducing the high accident rates caused by poor visibility when DVE conditions exist, they have realised this phenomenon will not be resolved through training alone but is one that requires a technology solution.
BAE Systems successfully tested BLAST during a two-week campaign in April 2011 at the Yuma Proving Grounds in Arizona. Fitted on a Bell UH-1 ”Huey” test-bed helicopter, the system demonstrated effective real-time 3-D visual landing zone representation with overlaid flight symbology information to a pilot in DVE conditions. The flight symbology provides all relevant flight critical information, allowing the pilot to easily judge the height, speed, and drift of the aircraft.
“The system combines proven millimetre wave (MMW) technology with advanced situational awareness capabilities, and provides safe-flight capabilities for front-line helicopter crews in diminished visibility conditions such as brownouts, whiteouts, darkness and adverse weather, helping the pilot achieve mission success,” said Paul Cooke, business development director of defence avionics for BAE Systems.
BLAST is at a technology readiness level (TRL) 6 as a prototype DVE System demonstrated in a relevant environment The system’s light weight, flexible architecture and ruggedized features allow it to be installed on both new and legacy helicopter models. The strong, versatile nature of this technology allows all platforms requiring real-time 3D situational awareness in DVE to benefit from this solution.
A press briefing on BAE Systems’ BLAST technology will take place in the ExCeL Media Centre (Room 6) on Day 1, September 13th, 2011 (1230-1330). The briefing will cover programme developments to date and the path forward to rapid fielding. Apply at the stand or call +44 (0) 7540 62 8923 during show hours.
BAE Systems will be exhibiting at the event from 13th to 16th September – come and visit us on Stand S4-105.