PDAS Provides 360° Pilot Situational Awareness
Lockheed Martin’s Pilotage Distributed Aperture Sensor (PDAS) completed its first flight on the Bell V-280 VALOR next-generation tiltrotor aircraft in March, the company revealed on 15 April.
PDAS is a multi-functional sensor system that generates high-resolution, 360° imagery around the aircraft to enhance situational awareness for pilots and other users. Specifically designed for current and future vertical lift aircraft, PDAS consists of six infrared sensors distributed around the aircraft, linked to aircrew helmets and cockpit displays via an open-architecture processor.
In the test series, it captured complete spherical infrared imagery while operating in a high-speed, tactically relevant flight environment and generated real-time imagery.
“Conducting PDAS flight tests on the V-280 is an exciting first step toward delivering a level of situational awareness unavailable on today’s Army rotorcraft,” observed Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Vice President Strategy & Business Development, Rita Flaherty. “With its embedded, multi-functional sensors, PDAS is the ideal foundation for an integrated survivability suite that will enable Army aircrews to own any environment and universally detect and defeat incoming threats.”
During testing, engineers demonstrated the system’s ability to provide simultaneous coverage to multiple independent displays. Aircrews benefit from its all-weather pilotage imagery, while embarked ground troops can survey the environment for tactical information and threats. While PDAS is currently generating imagery for two users, the system will ultimately support up to six users, which could include pilots in other aircraft and mission commanders on the ground.
Planned capability upgrades will demonstrate additional integrated survivability suite capabilities, such as Multi-Modal Sensor Fusion (MMSF), which blends data from multiple types of sensors to restore aircrew situational awareness in degraded visual environments and enables navigation in GPS-denied zones.