The US Army has selected BAE Systems to provide touch screen computer display units as an upgrade to the company’s ASN-128 Doppler GPS Navigation System on Black Hawk helicopters.
BAE say that the self-contained, all-weather, day or night navigation system enables Black Hawk pilots to view real-time flight plan data. BAE said in a press releasE:
“This task order, which was awarded to BAE Systems under a current $226 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, will bring touch-screen navigation system control to UH-60A/L Black Hawks. The Army plans to use the ASN-128 systems through 2035, and the upgrades will support safer operation for pilots by minimizing heads-down tasks.”
“We’ve been a supplier for the ASN-128 program since 1978,” said Alan Dewar, director of Communications and Navigation Solutions at BAE Systems.
“The full touch screen with moving map capability will improve safety for pilots, assisting our customer’s mission success.”
The CDUs will be produced at BAE Systems’ facility in Wayne, New Jersey, with circuit card production in Austin, Texas. Additional CDU delivery orders may follow as part of the Army’s upgrade plan. The initial order of 250 CDUs will be delivered in 2019 and 2020.
BAE Systems AN/ASN-128 operates on more than 15,000 helicopters in 35 nations. The company say its Doppler Navigation Systems provide accurate, independent, jam-resistant navigation in friendly and hostile environments and in operational situations where interference with GPS is likely. The system automatically selects Doppler navigation in GPS-denied environments.

55 COMMENTS

  1. Before any stupid statements about the UK selling stuff to the US I will just educate people. BAE is an international company with subsidiaries in the US. This will not provide work in the UK.

    • Andrew, as you get older and hopefully wiser I am sure you will be better able to navigate the very fine line between confidence and arrogance.

    • Thank you Andrew, your most appropriate comments on this article are typical and the reason stupid people like me visit this site less and less.

    • Andrew, generally these things go down better if you frame your comments as an observations about the article and do not start with value judgements and assumptions around comments that have not been made yet….

      So something like, “it’s a shame that to to win US defence contracts BAE has to operate a separate US based company as this limits benefits to the UK” would have been a nice opener that Would have engaged and started a dialogue.

      Just saying…….

    • BAE is allowed to transfer a certain amount of profits and tech based on agreement to their primary subsidiary.

      It allows just straight up improves the companies financials.

    • Merlins would be even nicer, as its a far superior meduim lift rotor and build in the lovely county of Somerset.

    • Merlins would be even better, a far superior meduim lift rotor than the black hawk and built in the fair county of Somerset to boot.

      • the dont look as ally, come in a stealth version, have years of modifications nor have the outboard weapons fit like the black hawks. black hawks all the way… in another dimension where the MOD are all about lethality and the RAF don’t put dibs on medium lift like the petulant children they are

        • (Chris H) reaper – Since when is a 100 year old organisation ‘petulant children’? If you are as clever as you think you are then why aren’t you Chief of the Defence Staff?

          And on behalf of all Crabs and ex Crabs who are the ones called when it gets a bit shitty – screw your insult

          • RAF 100 years…
            The flypast in London wasnt on a Wednesday because it messes up both weekends.
            The RN had its 100th birthday in 1646 during the English Civil War
            The Fleet Air Arm celebrated its 100th birthday in 2009
            The WRNS their 100th in 2017
            Dame Vera Lynne is older than the RAF.

            Just Saying shipmate 😉

          • (Chris H) reaper – Oh really so how come? Do please enlighten us? so the andrew and the PONGOS are never the butt of any jokes at all? I have a bookful Pal!

            What you are peddling isn’t banter its insults and why I said to screw them. Now screw you. Maybe in your little mind Old Son but when the Army is in a tight situation it isn’t the Navy they call. Its the RAF. When it needs to go anywhere fast or be re supplied it isn’t the Navy its the RAF. Not too many Army or Navy folks gradually removing ISIS (the biggest existential threat we as a nation face) from Iraq and Syria its the RAF.

            Each of the three armed forces plays its own very significant and greatly appreciated role and each is inter dependent on the others, some more than others (see above), so when some ‘really clever’ smartarse like you makes sarcastic comments it shows YOUR ignorance rather more than prove any dumb point you are failing to make.

            ‘petulant children’?….. whatever Pal whatever…

          • Gunbuster – That ‘Wednesday’ crack did make me smile ….
            But did I say there wasn’t a ‘Senior Service’? Or that others didn’t make their contributions? No I don’t think I did – shipmate.

            I was taking apart some dumb comment about the whole of the RAF being ‘petulant children’. The 100 years comment was simply to ask the question and no answer was forthcoming other than more sarcasm.

            But seeing as you mentioned it ….
            Your 1909 date is somewhat tenuous as there was no formal organisation which came before the RFC. So should the RAF really have celebrated (with the Andrew) in 2012 given the creation of the RFC? The RNAS (of 1914) along with the RFC, was replaced in 1918 by the RAF.

            The WRNS was indeed formed in 1917 but disbanded in 1919, reformed in 1939 and then ceased to exist in 1993. It never made it to 2017 ….. so 57 years active service …

            One could point out that the FAA was actually born out of the RAF in 1924 so I look forward to celebrating with you the FAA’s 100th in 2024 but moving swiftly on ….

          • Far too much knocking of the RAF. All services have their part to play. For me the RN and RAF are of equal relevance.

          • @Daniele Mandelli Indeed.

            Although the banter between forces is a tradition, they all understand that each has its part to play and are all lucky enough that each service is amazing at what they do. There are plenty of squaddies that have been grateful that the RAF are so brave and skilled at getting them out of war zones. We should be mighty proud of all our armed services and we should be happy that all of them are among the best in the world.

          • Lee1

            I replied to your comments on the Israel shoots down Syrian jet thread.

            I would appreciate it if you could reply please.

        • Helicopters are very expensive. I think something like half the Army’s operational budget goes on supporting rotary craft. If we were a large continental country like say Germany, Poland, or Russia then a large heliborne force would make some sense. The US are in a different league and are best ‘ignored’ when trying to make sense of defence procurement. Remember helicopters are large and fragile and to move them about in ‘brigade’ numbers would take some doing; at the moment I can’t see why we would want to do it. The idea of expensive and fragile machines landing on top of the enemy is a bit scary too. The further you land away from enemy the more you reduce the flexibility of the air frame.

          It would be nice if the UK could invest in making Chinook more ‘sea friendly’ (folding rotors, sea spray protection etc.) and for us to double down on the RAF’s expertise with that aircraft flying from QEC. I see Chinook more as a small transport plane than I do a helicopter and it fits in with the RAF end of the logistics chain.

          I am not sure about Puma. It would probably better to spend the money on the Chinook fleet and the AAC Wildcat fleet.

      • “Jonathan August 1, 2018 at 16:51
        Merlins would be even better, a far superior meduim lift rotor than the black hawk and built in the fair county of Somerset to boot.”

        I have to disagree with that sentiment Jonathan, whilst the Merlin is an amazing Helicopter it is also expensive, maintenance heavy and rather fragile. It sits in an awkward spot between medium and heavy lift. The RAF didn’t want Merlin in the first place preferring more Chinook and were happy to offload them on the Royal Navy when they could.

        The Black Hawk would make an excellent Puma replacement and it should be noted that Westland used to have a License agreement to build the type with an eye on selling it to Saudi Arabia and later the RAF. The Westland Affair and Options for Change rather killed any plans to replace the Puma at the time.

  2. The cost vs home build argument rears its head here too. We were offered these, I forget how many, for 300 million. We ordered Wildcat for 1 billion.

    I think my figures are correct, apologies if not.

    I know Chris especially will shoot me down in flames over this as building at home us close to his heart, which us commendable. That is fine.

    But seeming as one of HM forces biggest issues is numbers, we do need some cheaper assets and these would have fitted the bill.

    A greater effort for a balance between quality and quantity is needed IMO.

      • (Chris H) Daniele – I try to argue a point positively but I hope that isn’t seen as shooting anyone down in a personal way.
        As to the issue you raise I would simply argue we had an excellent Army / Navy helo in the Lynx. Small, capable and adaptable. We built some 450 and exported it to 15 other nations. Of relevance to your point is that it was yet another project in which foreign involvement (by the French) screwed us over. The Lynx was directly developed into the Wildcat with added capabilities, avionics and sensors built into a better airframe and two new engines. It has already been sold to 4 foreign armed forces. Why wouldn’t we buy anew aircraft based on a formidable forerunner? Training costs alone are massively reduced. And the heavier the helo the stronger the deck you land it on has to be and therefore adding a further cost.

        As to the Black Hawk this is the Army variant there is another called Sea Hawk for naval use. Unit cost in 2012 was some $21 Mn a piece. So for $300 Mn that would have given us 14 aircraft. The Black Hawk is a 10 Te aircraft while the wildcat is a 6 Te aircraft – hardly comparing like for like? And if you need a medium lift adaptable helo then there is nothing better than a 14 Te Merlin.

        Black Hawk is a comparatively old aircraft despite upgrades dating back to the early ’70s like the Lynx. The Yanks are good at keeping old kit flying for decades and they should be applauded for that and when you are buying 3,000 units you get a good deal. But to think a Black Hawk can in any way do what a Wildcat can is stretching imagination.

        The only comment I would add regarding home vs foreign built is that USA Incorporated is the world master in aggressive selling of its products to undermine and hopefully destroy foreign capabilities even if it isn’t a direct import to the USA. They work on the concept of USA meeting global demand and the removal of all competition to that end. They did it with the F-111 which was the final nail that killed TSR-2.

        As a manufacturing nation we should always ask ‘why?’ when someone from the USA gives us what looks like a great deal. Team Tempest should remember this ….

        • Chris. Good Lord no, a purely joking comment on my part concerning bring shot down.
          No problems here just stating an opinion, which as I expected you responded to with aplomb.

        • “The Lynx was directly developed into the Wildcat with added capabilities, avionics and sensors built into a better airframe and two new engines. It has already been sold to 4 foreign armed forces. Why wouldn’t we buy anew aircraft based on a formidable forerunner? Training costs alone are massively reduced. And the heavier the helo the stronger the deck you land it on has to be and therefore adding a further cost.”

          – Well that is an interesting question Chris, in respect of Naval Wildcat it certainly is a sensible procurement choice that has already picked up exports and will no doubt pickup more. Considering the difference avionics wise between Lynx and Wildcat there is always going to be a training burden and deck weight is a non issue as all RN vessels are rated to accept Merlin.

          The Army Wildcat on the other hand is a waste of money and a type seeking a role to fill. When the wildcat was originally ordered it was billed as a battlefield light utility helicopter for the army, however it is simply not capable of fulfilling that role in the modern battlefield.

          The modern soldier carries considerably more equipment and body armour than previous generations. The lynx was always a tight fit for lightly armed troops. Then add in an air gunner its completely incapable of undertaking the utility role.

          So the role was changed to the recce role, the ah64 is far more capable.

          The wildcat is not what the army needs for the utility role that is now wholly reliant on the RAF with its Pumas and Chinooks.

          • Agree. Blackhawk could have replaced Lynx AH1 for the army only, at less cost in an Off The Shelf Purchase.

            Wildcat purely for the RN.

            As it is we will be left with Wildcat, Chinook in the RAF, and the Puma probably chopped next. The RN will operate 25 ex RAF Merlins.

            I also read the RAF kicked up a stink at a larger helicopter such as a Blackhawk being flown by the army?

          • The RAF were very happy to offload those Merlins onto the Navy and get more Chinooks.

            I wouldn’t be surprised that a bit of a fuss was kicked up over the Army operating a Black Hawk sized platform.

            I can see the Puma staying for a bit longer than planned actually, they are in effect rebuilt to an as new almost Super Puma standard and as a utility type that can carry a reasonable amount of people and equipment but get into smaller spots than Chinook it has its uses still.

            From the RAF website:
            The Puma HC2 is capable of carrying 16 passengers, 12 fully equipped troops or up to 2 tonnes of freight, the latter moved as internal cargo or underslung, or a mix of the two. It can also be fitted with up to six stretchers for operations in the casualty evacuation or medical emergency response team role.

            To be honest I think it might be better to run on the Puma HC2 longer and see what happens with the US Army Black Hawk replacement program.

          • Entirely agree Fedaykin.

            I hope you’re correct concerning the Puma.

            I fear it is am easy cut to make seeming as the RAF quite rightly love the Chinook and the critical capability it gives. Let’s hope both are retained.

  3. I would always favour home built over buying external, it might be more expensive at first but it brings in taxes and secures job or even creates jobs. Once you start buying externally you can reduce capabilities of making in the UK in future and can lead to knowledge gaps in that particular asset. Our current allies might not always be allies so I believe always home manufacturing enables us to be self reliant. If we didn’t have government being tight fisted we could get better deals buy committing to larger orders over time on assets for all 3 services. This would be giving us a much needed boost in defense ability whilst securing capabilities and jobs in the industry, especially given current leaving EU situation.

  4. Off topic.

    No 25 (F) Squadron to reform at RAF Valley to fly Hawk T2. This is by dividing the current No IV (R) Squadron in two.

  5. Which of the active service helicopters are capable of operating in the front line.

    Apache and Chinooks for sure yes, Wildcat i assume yes. Merlins questionable, since they don’t have the armor. Puma?

      • Merlin had huge problems there, even with the kavlay armor added it still wasn’t sufficiently protected for front line roles, or at least that is what I understood. Same with puma.

          • Agreed but in an era of extremely tight budgets, resulting in small numbers of airframes, having ones that can’t be used on the frontline is not cost effective.

          • I would also point to the fact that the Merlins did have their armour upgraded as part of an urgent op requirement request before they were deployed.

  6. Love your comments guys. I have my own kind of template for forces jokes.
    How do you confuse …
    An RAF bloke ? Give him a job.
    An Army bloke ? Give him a bar of soap.
    A Navy bloke ? Give him a women.
    Love to here yours everyone.

  7. Not in any way relevant to the topic in hand but 5 more F-35s are now over the Atlantic and should be in Marham this evening (Friday).

    Thoroughly spoiling the RAF’s 4 day weekends …

      • (Chris H) Whatever missiles they are set up for it won’t be anywhere near what a Tiffy can deliver. I see the F-35 as the suppressing and targeting asset to enable Typhoons to deliver full weapon loads at distance. Plus it will be the CAS asset we lost with Harrier and of course be our 5th Gen naval strike asset. Possibly making the RN the first 100% 5th Gen carrier navy …

  8. If we are looking at a new meduim lift rotor (which we are clearly not, cus that would be sensible and needed, which we no longer do) I’m not sure we could do better than a AW149, it has greater range and lift than a Blackhawk, but is in the same weight range ( I agree with earlier comments that Merlin is a little bit large and complex for most medium lift roles, even though it’s the best at what it does). The AW149 airframe design is about 40 years younger than a black hawk and with that comes a shed load more gees leeway in walking away from a crash, although it’s not up to a wildcat, which a friend of mine who specialises in such things says is the rotor of choice to crash in (unless you try an jam your kit under the seat, which is a bad thing apparently).

    We have also been promised the production line on the AW149 in this country if the MOD go for it which is one hell of an industry off set. It’s also a runner for the new US meduim lift as well, so we may get some intra operability.

    As for going with Blackhawk, why buy last centuries kit this century, it’s a good rotor with a fine history, but then so was the sea King, and no one would go there ( yes I know there is no longer a production line and tooling).

    • We should still be in the market for a medium lift helicopter, but funds are just too tight right now. To me this should be one of the items near the top of the list, considering the clear lack in afgan/iraq.

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