The U.S. Air Force is looking to industry to help sustain the BAE Systems Lite Head-Up Display (LiteHUD) that the service is installing on the Lockheed Martin [LMT] AC-130J Ghost Rider gunship for Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) as part of the SideHUD effort for the aircraft.
The winning contractor would help train, equip and establish depot-level repair of LiteHUD in the continental United States, per an Aug. 17 business notice.
AC-130Js are to provide close air support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance.
“The LiteHUD allows the gunship pilots to positively identify and monitor friendly forces, armed enemy personnel and civilian bystanders during combat operations,” the strike section of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) special operations forces, personnel recovery, and rotary division at Robins AFB, Ga. said in a performance work statement. “This [capability] enables crews to accurately assess ground and maritime situations while maintaining battle space awareness for precision fire support missions.”
BAE Systems said that it was chosen for LiteHUD in October, 2016. The company said that it delivered the first LiteHUD for the AC-130J in January 2017 and that the ACT-130J first flew with the LiteHUD at that time.
“The LiteHUD is a small and compact [HUD], offering space and weight advantages paired with the latest optical waveguide technology,” AFLCMC said. “Its modular and lightweight design improves flight safety, reducing fatigue and increasing situational awareness day or night. Providing seamless operation with night vision goggles, LiteHUD allows for incremental capability upgrades with minimal impact to helmet and aircraft installation.”
“The AC-130J configuration was developed specifically to meet the warfighters needs,” per AFLCMC. “The LiteHUD is 60 percent smaller by volume and up to 50 percent lighter than a conventional HUD. Integrated with large area display, modular design, and packaging concept allows for easy integration into both existing and future aircraft flight decks. It has a significantly larger eye motion box, high-resolution navigation, sensor imagery display under all flight conditions, high brightness, and an all-digital display system giving high reliability.”
AFSOC is looking to other upgrades for its platforms as well, including the possible use of SpaceX Starlink low Earth orbit (LEO) communications satellites to aid operations (Defense Daily, Aug. 8).
The command’s 1st Special Operations Contracting Squadron plans to conduct a 12-month operational evaluation of Starlink.
The 1st Special Operations Contracting Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., provides contracting support for the 1st Special Operations Wing, which includes a number of AFSOC aircraft, including the AC-130J and the MC-130J Commando IIs and CV-22 tiltrotors by Bell [TXT] and Boeing [BA].