UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp., continues to move its MS-177 multi-spectral and long-range imaging sensor system to new heights. Recently the sensor completed a successful series of flight demonstrations from a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial system (UAS), and the sensor system's program received a U.S. Air Force (USAF) design contract award to expand and enhance the sensor's multi-spectral resolution reach.
The MS-177 was built upon the expertise and success of UTC Aerospace Systems' Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System sensor, currently flown on U-2S aircraft.
During the flight demonstrations the sensor's capabilities were proven successful in both land and maritime mission environments. "The MS-177's mission flexibility was exhibited on HALE UASs operating in the air and sea battle domains, and further conveys its ability to collect and deliver mission critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information required by the warfighter," said Kevin Raftery, ISR and Space Systems vice president for UTC Aerospace Systems.
The MS-177 sensor demonstrated its increased performance in coverage area per hour, flexibility to operate from multiple ISR platforms, multi-spectral resolution and that its image interpretability far outperforms other like systems. The MS-177 also has the ability to provide the longest-range combat identification imaging capability in the US military's Airborne ISR inventory.
The advancements associated with the USAF's design contract will drive the first enhanced model of the MS-177, and this cutting-edge system will be designated the MS-177A. The superior sensor will expand upon the spectral performance and mission capabilities of the current MS-177. The improvements in its multi-spectral imaging capabilities will be designed to provide commanders increased combat identification and actionable intelligence.
The MS-177A project is part of a larger technology strategy that UTC Aerospace Systems is developing as it analyzes emerging mission requirements. "The USAF design contract is the next step in applying our expertise in spectral-based airborne technology to support critical global missions. We continue to innovate and provide the war fighter with advanced products such as the MS-177 and the MS-177A which give them an ISR advantage in combatting real-world threats," noted Raftery.
Fielding of the MS-177 sensor on the RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk, HALE UAS is planned for late 2017. Development of the MS-177A sensor has already begun, and it is planned to be also fielded onto the Global Hawk. The design contract calls for UTC Aerospace Systems to design, develop, manufacture and deliver MS-177A sensor systems for fielding by 2019. Eventual production quantities would be determined year-by-year over the life of the program, based on funding allocations set by Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense acquisition priorities.
UTC Aerospace Systems designs, manufactures and services integrated systems and components for the aerospace and defense industries. UTC Aerospace Systems supports a global customer base, with significant worldwide manufacturing and customer service facilities.