Heat-Seeking Upgrade Becomes Standard For U.S. Navy Attack Helicopters
Navy attack choppers receive precision upgrade for their Hydra-70 rockets…
The U.S. Navy is upgrading its 2.5-inch Hydra-70 rocket with its Low-Cost Imaging Terminal Seeker technology, to give naval aviators more precise lethal capability.
The LCITS, developed by the Office of Naval Research, is a series of low-cost technologies which easily transforms the Hydra-70 – a folding-fin aerial rocket that saw heavy use in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and is now common place on U.S AH-64A Apache and AH-64D Apache Longbow and OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters – from a standard rocket, into a precision-guided weapon.
Image Credit: Dammit, 2008.
Navy Upgrading Apache and Kiowa's Hyrda-70 Rockets
The precision of the LCITS is owed to its heat-seeking sensors, which measure infrared electromagnetic radiation given off by warm bodies, to track, lock-on and strike its target.
In a recent test, a shore-based launcher fired two LCITS at two targets in a small group of five maneuvering boats. The rocket was able to identify the targets from the rest of the group, then successful strike and destroy them, despite their efforts to move.
Using their internal guidance system, the rockets navigate toward the target until they are within range, the heat seeking then takes over and adjusting its flight path as needed.
Unlike laser-guide weapons, which require the operator to maintain a visual on the target until the projectile strikes, the LCITS is a fire-and-forget technology. Ken Heeke, the ONR program officer for the program, explains;
“No longer do you have to continue to monitor the target after you’ve fired the weapon. You can move on to the next threat with the assurance that the rocket will hit the target.”
- Andrew Tarantola: Navy Helicopters are Getting More Deadly with Infrared Rockets. Gizmodo, 12/08/2011.