US Army and FMS AH-64Es to Receive ViaSat Small Tactical Terminals

U.S. Army AH-64E Apache pilots assigned to Task Force Griffin, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, 7th Infantry Division land for fuel in Kunduz, Afghanistan, May 31, 2017. The Griffins are working hard to support U.S. Forces Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom's Sentinel and Resolute Support Mission.

U.S. Army AH-64E Apache pilots land for fuel. Photo by Capt. Brian Harris

Boeing has awarded ViaSat a multi-year contract for two-channel small tactical terminals (STT) for the AH-64E Apache Guardian, ViaSat said. Production of the KOR-24A Link 16 terminal would be designated for the U.S. Army and Foreign Military Sales. The base contract covers a minimum of 534 terminals to be produced over the next four years. ViaSat said that contract would eventually contain options.

ViaSat said the STT was developed with private funds to meet forecasted warfighter requirements. The non-developmental item can deliver faster capabilities at a lower total lifecycle cost, the company said, compared to other programs of record like the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS).

“This award, along with other customers for the STT, has caused us to initiate a pre-planned production ramp up to approximately 35 terminals per month, leveraging investments we have already made in our capacity based upon this forecast demand,” said Andy Kessler, business area director for ViaSat’s Next Generation Tactical Datalink Systems. “Coupled with more than 600 terminals already in the field today, we expect to eclipse 1,000 STTs deployed worldwide by early in 2018.”

The STT would provide the AH-64E with a Link 16 common operating picture. This would enhance situational awareness in the multi-role combat helicopter and provide a soldier radio waveform capability for air-to-ground communication. These integrations should also improve the aircraft’s lethality and survivability.

Developed in partnership with Harris Corp., the KOR-24A is low-SWaP (size, weight and power). It gives access to either wideband ultra high frequency or legacy very high frequency, and situation data for both air and ground, friendly and enemy.

In March, the U.S. Army granted Boeing a five-year deal for the AH-64E. It was the first multi-year agreement for the Apache’s “E” variant. The contract covers full-rate production of remanufactured aircraft and new-build aircraft, remanufactured and new-build Longbow crew trainers, peculiar ground support equipment, initial spares, integrated logistics support and engineering technical services. Boeing said the U.S. Army is to receive 244 remanufactured units, while 24 new units will go to the foreign customer.

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