News: 'Eyes' of the Apache helicopter reach 1 million flight hour mark
Story by Sofia Bledsoe
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - The U.S. Army commemorated 1 million flight hours of the AH-64 Apache helicopter’s Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor at a ceremony held at the Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control facility in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 8.
Known as the "eyes of the Apache," the MTADS/PNVS provides Apache helicopter air crews the targeting and pilotage capabilities necessary for flying safe missions in day, night, and adverse weather conditions.
First fielded in 2005, the MTADS/PNVS saw combat when it was first deployed to Iraq in 2006 with the 1-82nd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, the first unit equipped with the modernized sight.
Col. Jeff Hager, project manager for the Apache Attack Helicopter, spoke at the ceremony and told the Lockheed Martin employees in attendance about the significance of this milestone.
“Less than three years ago, we celebrate the 1,000th delivery of the MTADS/PNVS,” said Hager. “Today we’re marking the next major milestone, and that is the millionth flight hour.”
“That is no small feat,” Hager continued. “Through countless engagements scattered throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, the system provides a combat proven advantage over the enemy that makes the fight an unfair one.”
Hager also emphasized that the majority of the hours were accumulated in combat, a testament of the system’s capabilities and importance in the battlefield.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Adam Marik from the 1-101st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment and keynote speaker at the event, told the employees about his experiences flying with the system in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“When MTADS was deployed to Iraq in 2006, the difference was immediate,” Marik said. “MTADS has allowed us to change our tactics and made us more lethal than ever before.”
Marik has served as a company tactical operations officer, pilot in command, air mission commander, and currently serves as an instructor pilot for Company C.
“The Apache is already known as the most lethal helicopter in the battlefield,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that the missiles, rockets and chain gun that have made us so lethal are useless without the ability of finding the enemy first.”
The Army is now continuing to improve the "eyes of the Apache" with the Modernized Day Sensor Assembly, which will bring high-definition, colored video into the Apache cockpit for target acquisition and designation.
Speaking to a group of trade media representatives by telephone during a media teleconference after the ceremony, Lt. Col. Steve Van Riper, product manager for Apache Sensors, said that Army was in the final stages of integration and development for the M-DSA. The focus of the new sensor capability is to address obsolescence and provide enhanced performance to the MTADS/PNVS system.
“We have a scheduled goal of having our on-aircraft installation in November of this year with a first flight scheduled in January of 2014,” Van Riper said. “We have projected the first unit equipped in FY18.”
The Apache Helicopters Project Office initiated a Performance Based Logistics (PBL) contract for the M-TADS/PNVS in 2007, which enhances system affordability and enables a supply availability rate of over 95 percent through efficiencies in supply chain management, depot-level support and supply and retrograde infrastructure, including spares planning, procurement, repairs, maintenance, modifications and inventory management of fielded systems. Team Apache was recognized with the PBL Award in 2011 by the U.S. secretary of defense.
To date, the Army has accepted delivery and fielded eight production lots of the M-TADS/PNVS and is preparing to award the ninth production lot.
“It is a pleasure and an honor to have this opportunity to thank the Lockheed Martin workforce today because even though our soldiers don’t know your individual faces, they know exactly the product that you produce,” said Hager to the audience. “You produce a product that allows the aviator, the combat crewman, and the soldier on the ground, a system that allows our great Americans to come home safely and keep them out of harm’s way.”