Pentagon is developing a new precision weapon system for its combat helicopters
WASHINGTON, (BM) – US Army announced plans to conduct several tests of long-range precision munitions systems. They are to be conducted with the future fleet of new combat powered-lifts in mind, acquired under the current Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24.
Information about the planned trials was provided by the head of the program responsible for acquiring new machines under the FVL program, Colonel Matthew Isaacson.
In principle, they are to allow the selection of the target long-range precision weapons system for new American combat helicopters that will best meet the requirements of the U.S. Army with solutions available on the market.
At the beginning of this year the US military announced plans to procure a limited batch of Spike Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) anti-tank missiles produced by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (RADS).
These systems are to be fitted to the AH-64 Apache attack helicopters in order to obtain additional long-range anti-tank armament for these machines.
This decision was made as a bridging solution even before the final choice was made on purchasing long-range precision ammunition for US Army attack helicopters.
The implementation of the Spike NLOS system is to allow for better definition of requirements for the target system of this type.
According to the current schedule of this program, preliminary decisions are to be made by 2023, and by then for the next three years for the U.S. The Army, in cooperation with the defense industry, is to establish the initial requirements, technical possibilities of the offered solutions and their interoperability with new aviation structures.
The target system is to have at least the same, and preferably better, characteristics than the currently used Spike NLOS system.
More about Spike NLOS systems
The Spike NLOS rocket is made according to the normal aerodynamic design and has a cylindrical body of high aspect ratio with a hemispherical nose fairing.
In the middle part of the body there are X-shaped wings, in the tail part there are all-turning rudders of a similar configuration. To reduce the size of the rocket in the transport position, the wings and rudders are folded. The wings fold along the body by turning forward around the hinge in the area of the leading edge and open after exiting the TPK.
The warhead of the Spike NLOS missiles of early modifications Mk2 and Mk4 is a tandem cumulative warhead, depending on the combat mission, a tandem cumulative or high-explosive fragmentation warhead can be used in the Mk5 missile.
To destroy fortifications and buildings, the missile can be equipped with a high-explosive-penetrating warhead PBF (Penetration, Blast and Fragmentation),
The missile control system of the Mk2 modification is combined, includes: a television homing head, an inertial system and a semi-automatic command guidance system.
The missile control system of the Mk4 modification includes: an uncooled two-channel thermal / television seeker of the IIR type, an inertial system, a satellite positioning system and equipment for a two-way radio data transmission channel providing an automatic command guidance mode.
In the latter case, a video system is used that transmits the image to the operator’s console. This makes it possible to implement a wide range of combat applications, including “fire and forget”, target acquisition and retargeting after launch, command guidance and implementation of complex flight trajectories, firing at an invisible target from a closed position, obtaining reconnaissance data in real time, identification and hitting the target in the most vulnerable parts.
It was reported that a semi-active laser homing head could also be installed on the Mk5 modification rocket.
To attack targets outside the line of sight, the Spike NLOS missile system can use third-party target designation. Reconnaissance units, unmanned aerial vehicles, etc. can transmit information about the location of the target to the operator’s console. using systems of operational control, command, information gathering, surveillance and intelligence (C4I), providing the ability to share digital information.
The disadvantages of the Spike-NLOS complex include: low rocket flight speed (about 190 m/s), insufficient reliability of hitting a target in fog, poor visibility and the use of aerosol interference by the enemy.
Spike-NLOS can be placed on almost any helicopter. One of the first options adopted by the Israel Defense Forces was the version on the Bell AN-1 Cobra platform.
The complex is part of the armament of the deck-based AW-159 Wildcat helicopters of the South Korean Navy.
In 2016, the Ministry of Defense of the Philippines signed a contract with AugustaWestland for the supply of AW-159 helicopters armed with the Spike-NLOS complex in 2018. These helicopters are planned to be placed aboard two frigates of the Philippine Navy, ordered in South Korea, and used to engage surface targets.
The airborne Spike-NLOS ATGM includes:
- Spike-NLOS guided missiles in transport and launch containers;
- launchers equipped with standard hardpoints;
- survey-search and sighting system Top Lite.
Normally, the missiles are placed on a helicopter in two paired launchers, which are mounted on standard hardpoints along the sides of the fuselage. The Top Lite electronic optical all-day system (MIL STD 1553 information exchange standard) includes an infrared camera, a CCD-Charge Coupled Device (CCD) -based television camera and a laser rangefinder.
A version of the launcher has been developed, on which, in addition to Spike-NLOS missiles, the Spike-ER ATGM can be used (see photo).
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