30 Nov 05. AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, has successfully completed an intense development effort with the UK Ministry of Defence to support the US Department of Defense (DoD) Advanced Concepts Technology Demonstration of options for a battlefield combat identification system. The RBCI requirement was born out of a desire to reduce fratricide – the killing or wounding of friendly forces, on the battlefield by air attack.
A generic radio based option was developed in conjunction with the DoD and then integrated with the AgustaWestland Collective Training System. It was then fitted to a British Army AgustaWestland Apache AH Mk1 helicopter for the exercise on Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) last month. In combination with the recently enhanced Helicopter Collective Training System developed with Inter-Coastal Electronics and Saab Training Systems, the weapons effects from the Apache AH Mk1 could be measured against correctly identified friendly/opposing targets and monitored in the UK Tactical Engagement Simulation (TES) Area Weapon Effect Simulator (AWES) exercise control room.
One of the design aims was to make maximum use of the existing platform hardware assets thereby minimizing additional weight and space limitations. The system developed by AgustaWestland for the exercise used a modified Inter-Coastal Electronics Smart On-board Data Interface Module (SMODIM), a modified ITT ARC-201D and the addition of a kneeboard computer in the aircraft cockpit. The kneeboard computer was used to display the map, map coordinates, aircraft heading, coordinates/icon for the identified target and the friendly forces picture in the area of the interrogation. The kneeboard also stores all engagement data for after action review and analysis.
The SMODIM’s existing functionality to compile data from the aircraft systems and the radio allowed presentation of target information in the context of the blue-force picture so that a comparison could be made to improve informed decision making prior to engaging a target.
The RBCI system on the Apache AH Mk1 was developed, tested and demonstrated in just six months. The fact that it was ready on time, within budget and performed as required throughout the exercise is a huge credit to the whole of the joint team comprising of UK Ministry of Defence, US Department of Defense, AgustaWestland, Inter-Coastal Electronics and ITT.