Better Sensors Make for Better National Defense

The engineers and technicians at Rock West Solutions go to work every day knowing that the sensor and signal processing technology they are working on plays a vital role in defending the United. They know that in the age of modern computerized warfare, better sensors make for better national defense.

Military leaders in India and Taiwan are about to gain first-hand knowledge of this reality. Thanks to a $67.6 million contract awarded to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, India and Taiwan will be on the receiving end of two new sensor systems that will improve the navigation and firing capabilities of the Boeing AH-64D/E Apache helicopter.

Known more simply as the Apache, the AH-64D is the preferred attack helicopter for a variety of combat scenarios. It allows for precision strikes with quick entry and exit. Apaches have served the U.S. military quite well since their inception in the 1970s.

The Apache's New Sensors

Rock West explains that it is the many on-board sensors hosted by the Apache that makes it so successful as a combat helicopter. Yet, as with all things military, there is ever room for improvement. Thus, the Apache is getting two brand-new sensor arrays to improve navigation and weapons firing.

A new Pilot Night Vision Sensor will give pilots near infrared clarity for navigating under all sorts of conditions. Navigation will be improved not only during the nighttime hours, but also during bad weather events. Better navigation makes for safer missions all the way around.

Additionally, the Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Site is a sensor array that gives weapons officers a better means of acquiring targets and firing on them. Key to this technology is a color display. Being able to see color makes it easier for attack officers to identify what it is they are looking at.

Warfare at a Distance

Whether it is Rock West Solutions or Lockheed Martin, the contractors developing modern weapons systems are having to think of warfare from an entirely new mindset. Long gone are the days when war was conducted exclusively via hand-to-hand combat. As time goes on, warfare is being conducted from greater distances.

Today's defense sector sensors have to be capable of covering greater distances with greater accuracy. The primary goal is to win the battle while keeping human combatants out of harm's way as much as possible. Thus, better sensors make for better defense.

Sensor technology has come quite a long way over the years. Some of the technologies we now have at our disposal make anything that was available during World War II look like child's play. Things will only get better as defense contractors figure out ways to design and build better sensors.

The Support Side of Warfare

Of course, it is not fair to talk about military sensors without also discussing the support side of the equation. The actual fighting is only half the war. The other half are the myriad support services that keep combat operations going. They rely on sensor technology as well.

A good example is material acquisition and control. Something as simple as RFID transponders and receivers make it possible for the military apparatus to track every piece of equipment on the ground. What amounts to a pretty basic sensor is actually extremely helpful in managing wartime activities.

War has changed over the years. The end result – victory over the enemy – has not changed, but how that result is achieved has. Today's warfare is about science as much as military tactics. And to that end, better sensors make for better military operations.