ORLANDO, FL -- The Lockheed Martin Pathfinder flight team has successfully completed the first flight of its fully integrated Pathfinder advanced pilotage system on an Army HH-60L Black Hawk MEDEVAC helicopter at Felker Army Airfield, Fort Eustis, VA.
This first flight marks the beginning of the developmental test phase for this state-of-the-art cargo and utility aircraft pilotage system, derived from the AH-64D Apache’s Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-PNVS). Test pilots and flight engineers from the U.S. Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate are evaluating Pathfinder’s technical readiness level for application on cargo and utility aircraft.
"In the short time we have been at Fort Eustis, we already have demonstrated Pathfinder’s pilotage capability as a fully integrated sensor system for the Army’s cargo and utility helicopter community," said Monty Watson, Pathfinder program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "It will be a great asset for Warfighters."
Following the developmental testing, Army aircrews will participate in a limited user test to evaluate the system in an operational environment. The aircrews will come from the U. S. Army Reserve 159th Aviation Regiment in Clearwater, FL. Lockheed Martin is leading an industry team that includes BAE Systems, Elbit-Fort Worth and Thales.
"Flight safety is the single most important facet of any heliborne mission," said Bob Gunning, vice president of Apache programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "When you can see better, you can naturally operate more safely and more confidently in any environment. With its high reliability and its unique array of options, Pathfinder allows you to do just that."
Pathfinder incorporates the combat-proven technology of the Lockheed Martin Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) system, also known as Arrowhead, which is currently integrated and deployed on the AH-64D Apache helicopter. Pathfinder significantly increases situational awareness and reduces pilot workload through a head-up, eyes-out, helmet-mounted display.
With an exceptionally wide field of view, Pathfinder is the only forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system designed and developed specifically to support terrain flight and terminal operations in unimproved landing areas during reduced visibility conditions. Its high definition resolution allows pilots to fly at safer altitudes and airspeeds while providing the necessary information to complete complex missions while avoiding obstacles such as wires, poles and trees.
The Pathfinder advanced pilotage system also has a Visible/Near Infrared (V/NIR) camera that enhances situational awareness in low light conditions by blending the V/NIR sensor video with Pathfinder FLIR. Pilots can now see cultural and military lighting, providing aircrews enhanced mission capability and safer flying conditions. The sensor also allows aviators to see laser pointers, improving coordination with ground units.
The Pathfinder turret mounts readily on the helicopter’s chin using a kit consisting of three line-replaceable modules. Eleven of the 14 line-replaceable modules are entirely common with the AH-64D Apache’s M-PNVS system, creating a unique synergy with the established M-TADS/PNVS production line and worldwide performance based logistics sustainment base.