With the ARH-70A helicopter program on the rocks after a program cancellation and re-compete, the US Army’s over-stressed and aging fleet of armed OH-58D scout helicopters must soldier on in the face of losses and breakdowns. One of their most critical pieces of equipment is their mast-mounted sight, which was originally developed to let the Kiowa Warriors watch Soviet tank formations while hovering behind trees. The sights’ advanced cameras, infrared, and laser ranging/targeting features make them excellent tools in the current war as well, and these helicopters’ size, speed and numbers have given them a very important role in urban combat scenarios. See esp. DRS’ explanations of the battlefield benefits of mast-mounted helicopter sights vs. roof-mounted alternatives.
All equipment must be maintained, which is why DRS Optronics, Inc, Optronics Division in Palm Bay, FL received a new firm-fixed-price and cost plus fixed fee 5-year indefinite quantity/ indefinite delivery contract that will cover spares, repairs and services for the OH-58D’s mast mounted sight from 2009 through 2013. This includes “obsolescence removal” – redesigning the system to use new parts when manufacturers no longer produce the old parts.