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AUSA Global Force: ELK is Covertly Lighting the Way

CTSi & Blue Wolf partner to provide required lighting technologies for V-22


Last October, CTSi (Coherent Technical Services, Inc., Lexington Park, Maryland) and partner Blue Wolf (Boise, Idaho) announced the completion of US DoD environmental testing of its newly developed covert lighting system, designated Expeditionary Lighting Kit (ELK), for use in airborne, land and maritime missions. CTSi is lead system integrator for ELK, with Blue Wolf providing the required lighting technologies from its intellectual properties’ portfolio.

In an update for MONCh, Matt Hederstrom, Program Spokesperson, emphasised ELK, “is quite novel, designed for special operations and the V-22 OSPREY, in particular,” better allowing this aircraft to hover, offload cargo and passengers, and complete other tasks under covert and other more rigorous conditions of darkness.

Indeed, ELK provides up to four zones of independently controlled white, NVG-compatible or IR lighting to ensure military operations remain concealed from enemy line-of-sight during transport. ELK is further termed, “roll-on, roll-off,” as the modular system is not integrated into an airframe. Mr Hederstrom added: “You can bolt it in and then unbolt it, depending on the mission.”

ELK also delivers other life cycle efficiencies. The system uses LED lights which require less power, and operate longer and at cooler temperatures, compared to incandescent light bulbs installed in many legacy weapons platform cargo bays and like areas. As of 9 February, CTSI-Blue Wolf will be delivering more than 50 ELK units to the V-22 programme. “This lends itself to be customized and adaptable to any cargo airplane,” Mr Hederstrom noted and reported interest by the military-industry teams of several cargo aircraft in service with US DoD.

ELK is not ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) controlled, which has also encouraged current interest in the product by non-US customers. As for the 2019 ELK product roadmap, the industry team will continue refining the system for use on different weapons platforms. The current special operations customer has a transit case to allow its units to wheel and then offload, use and repack, the system components for a selected V-22. The industry spokesperson concluded: “That mission for the lights will be similar in terms of process, but that transit case full of lights and other materiel will be different for a C-130 – and with good reasons. For example, the quantity of lights and their locations will be different, and the cable harnesses will be different lengths. In the next year, we’ll be building upon the fact we have a finished transit case for V-22 that is plug-and-play. We’ll have another transit case with lights and supporting materiel for the C-130 and any other fixed-wing or rotary-aircraft that has a cargo bay – the C-17, CH-47, others.”

Marty Kauchak

CTSI-Blue Wolf Expeditionary Lighting Kit (ELK) unit in lighting configuration. (Image: CTSi/Blue Wolf)
CTSI-Blue Wolf Expeditionary Lighting Kit (ELK) unit in lighting configuration. (Image: CTSi/Blue Wolf)




CTSI-Blue Wolf Expeditionary Lighting Kit (ELK) unit in lighting configuration. (Image: CTSi/Blue Wolf)

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