Adjusting Fleets in Response to Real World Threats
Combat Helicopter – Europe’s Largest Dedicated Military Helicopter Event – has identified key operational requirements for military forces as nations adjust their fleets in response to real world threats.
Many of the nation’s we spoke to are facing evolving threats taking place concurrently in different environments. Many nations are facing similar challenges, requiring industry to develop technology to counter sophisticated adversaries and dialogue with partner nations to maximise operational resources.
Operating in Degraded Environments
Organisations have revealed a fundamental area of concern continues to centre on operations within degraded environments, For example, the US Army suffered over 400 accidents between 2002-2015 with 152 fatalities and over $1bn worth of damage.
Industry is certainly pushing the technological boundaries. We heard about a number of current programmes in developments including the use of fixed downward facing cameras, helmet tracking using emoji’s to augment the pilot’s view and high-definition colour schemes. It’s clear the technology trend right now is for more closely integrated sensors working over a larger portion of the EMS providing a more complete picture for crews.
Missions are evolving rapidly yet as the focus shifts towards near peer threat, nations are encountering an enemy with increased ground to air capabilities and unclear battle lines. Militaries need to respond to intelligence quickly and accurately but this will mean facing an increasingly sophisticated adversary in challenging environments.
We have heard about testing programmes to provide pilots with a complete picture to successfully navigate, strike and return to base. Programmes, including integrated helmet systems from sensor to display, IR sensor systems with 2 band stereoscopic view, integration across multiple sensors and interestingly the use of Artificial Intelligence are being developed to provide the pilot with the full picture that may otherwise be difficult to see.
With future operations likely to consist of A2AD environments with advanced AD networks, militaries have sharpened the focus on defensive aid systems. Militaries are pushing industry to develop integrated self-protection systems using more sophisticated antennas, radar and software to provide pilots and aircraft with advanced passive and active warning systems to detect, evade and destroy incoming threats.
Whether at land or at sea, the ability to rapidly switch roles to support varied operations, be that combat, surveillance or personnel recovery for example, is a crucial operational requirement.
Furthermore, multi-role helicopters ensure nations obtain maximum value during the procurement process. The increased investment in the development and procurement of multi-role helicopters has been a key factor for industry organisations – but it has also produced several technological challenges.
The ability to plug and play armaments onto aircraft is critical when deploying utility helicopters from manoeuvre missions to CAS operations. However, one nation discovered their legacy platforms cannot take new equipment because the systems were integrated. Their new strategy is to not integrate solutions so it becomes quicker and easier to take off and put on assets.
A forum to discuss operational challenges and requirements
Combat Helicopter – Europe’s Largest Dedicated Military Helicopter event – returns to Krakow, Poland, 17th-19th October 2017.
This blog post has detailed just some of the key challenges militaries are facing across the world. The 3-day meeting in October will provide a forum for military and industry participants to come together and discuss how to ensure future operational challenges are met.