Low And No Visibility Tech


BAE Systems recently demonstrated a system that provides helicopter pilots with situational awareness of their immediate surroundings while flying in zero visibility conditions. The company seeks to improve statistics that show more combat helicopters have been lost in Afghanistan to low visibility conditions than to enemy fire. The Brownout Landing Aid System Technology (BLAST) mixes pulsed light lidar and radar data to detect objects, measure their distance from the aircraft and present visual information to pilots about obstacles (even moving ones) in their surroundings. The system weighs less than 50 pounds.

According to BAE, the system works in snow, fog, sand, rain and smoke conditions, identifying obstacles like poles, wires and terrain. Important to military operations, the system’s radar and other passive components offer a low probability of intercept. BAE argues that the system can save money and lives and improve operational capability. Information can be delivered to the pilot via a multi-function display, a helmet display and (at least in theory) even products like Google Glass. It uses millimeter wave long wave IR and synthetic vision technologies. BAE says the system has been flown and proven and is ready for service.