The Army is working on details with Lockheed Martin [LMT] for the first production Laser Rangefinder Designators (LRFDs) that are part of the Modernized Day Sensor Assembly (M-DSA) upgrade for the AH-64 Apache helicopter.

"The contract will be for Lot 1 production,” Wayne Hudry, Army Apache Sensors deputy product manager, told Defense Daily. The first lot is expected to be comprised of 33 units.

An undefined contract award is expected early in the first quarter of 2012, with a defined contract to follow.

“Ultimately we’re going to outfit the whole fleet, and there will be (Foreign Military Sales) FMS and (Direct Commercial Sale) DCS aircraft, so eventually all the international fleet over time will be upgraded as well,” he said.

The contract comes after the recent delivery of five M-DSA system design and development (SDD) LRFD prototype units to the Army, under a three-year contract awarded in 2008 to modernize the Apache’s DSA (Defense Daily, Dec. 8).

The LRFD is the chief targeting aid for the Apache, establishing the range to the target for  weapons aiming accuracy. For the Hellfire II missile, the LRFD designates the aim point with a laser spot. There is also an eye-safe laser for safe training exercises.

The LRFD comprises Phase 1 of the DSA modernization. This phase deals with obsolescence issues and increases the system’s ability to fully accommodate future weapons.

Phase 2 of M-DSA upgrades will include the visible color sensor, laser spot tracker, inertial measurement unit and day sensor structure assembly and adds a laser pointer/marker compatibility. This upgrade recently completed a successful SDD critical design review in its SDD contract.

“The high-definition color TV is a major subcomponent of Lockheed Martin’s M-DSA Modernized TV Sensor Line Replaceable Module,” Matt Hoffman M-TADS/PNVS program director in Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control business, told Defense Daily. “The color TV is currently in the integration phase, and qualification is expected to begin during the first quarter of 2012.”