Your mission is to fly from 20-100 feet off the ground, at flight speeds, regardless of rain, snow, or dark of night. These journeys often take place within countries that either don’t want you there, or prefer not to admit that you ever were there. Hostile fire is a distinct possibility. You are very probably a special operations pilot, and the most important tool in whatever aircraft you’re flying is something called a terrain following/terrain avoidance (TF/TA) system that helps keep your plane at the requisite height above ground – without hitting trees, ships, and other obstructions.
As the holiday season approaches, US SOCOM is working on a new present for its future pilots. Raytheon Company Precision Attack and Surveillance Systems in McKinney, TX received a Cost Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) contract with a potential maximum value of $164.2 million for system design and development of the Silent Knight Radar (SKR) in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Up to 6 low-rate initial production units are included as an option, and work will be performed in McKinney, TX from Jan. 1, 2007 through Dec. 30, 2013 (H92222-07-C-0041).
Silent Knight is a next-generation TF/TA system for US SOCOM pilots using fully modern technology. The required capabilities of the Silent Knight radar reportedly include color weather display, a ground map mode experienced as a high-resolution display, detection and location of other aircraft and/or ships; and advances in terrain following and avoidance capabilities; and will be lighter and require less power than predecessors.
As a common system, Silent Knight will eventually be fielded on MH/HH-47 Chinooks, MH-60M Pave Hawks, MC-130H Combat Talon (Hercules variant) fixed-wing transports, and CV-22 Osprey block 30 tilt-rotor aircraft.
Formally signed Dec. 12, 2006, and initially funded at $28.5 million, the contract calls for Raytheon to build, test and integrate the new Silent Knight radar. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems is performing the work in Dallas and McKinney, TX. Principal partners include AIC in Crestview, FL; DRS Technologies in St. Louis, MO; and Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA.
July 17/20: CV-22B Testing of the AN/APQ-187 Silent Knight terrain-following/terrain-avoidance K-band radar on the US Air Force’s CV-22B has started last month. The flight took place on June 23 at Eglin Air Force Base. Testing is being performed by 413th Flight Test Squadron. The new radar allows special forces to fly their aircraft at 100ft above ground level in straight and turning flight at speed up to 300kts. It is designed to replace the AN/APQ-174, AN/APQ-186 and AN/APQ-170.
June 25/19: Initial Production Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems won a $96.6 million contract modification for the initial production of the Silent Knight Radar system for the US Special Operations Command. The Silent Knight Radar is a terrain following, terrain avoidance system designed to increase the situational awareness of aircraft and helicopters in low visibility conditions. Silent Knight is claimed to be 30 percent lighter than previous airborne systems and to require less power, which means a lower probability of detection/interception. The system includes a range of new applications, including navigation support systems and threat detection and identification. The radar also features ground mapping and weather detection capabilities. The contract modification increases the ceiling to $300 million for continued low-rate initial production of the radar system for rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. Raytheon will perform work in McKinney and Forest, Mississippi, and is scheduled to be complete by October 2022.
February 14/19: OFP development The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) contracted Raytheon with a $15 million modification for Silent Knight Radar Operational Flight Program (OFP) development, field service representative support and engineering services in support of the USSOCOM fixed wing aircraft. The Silent Knight Radar system’s terrain following/terrain avoidance technology provides the pilot with terrain maps as well as climb or dive cues. The contract for the Silent Knight Radar system was originally awarded to Raytheon in 2007. The system’s projected platforms include the MH-47G Chinook, the MH-60M Blackhawk Special Operations helicopter, MC-130 transports, and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The modification completes OFP software delivery for the CV-22. The CV-22 is a multi-mission, tiltrotor aircraft with vertical as well as short takeoff and landing capabilities. Work will continue to take place at the Raytheon facility in McKinney, Texas, and is scheduled to be finished by December 2021.
February 26/17: Raytheon has won a $45.5 million contract modification from the US Special Operations Command for the delivery of the Silent Knight Radar system. The modification is a follow-up to an initial 2006 agreement — that tasked Raytheon with building, testing and integrating the new Silent Knight radar into a variety of special forces aircraft — and supports low-rate initial production in addition to full-rate production for the radar systems. Aircraft currently using Silent Knight include the MH-47 Chinook, the MH-60 Seahawk, the MC-130 Combat Talon, as well as several fixed-wing aircraft. The system provides operators with a color weather display, a ground map, high-resolution imagery, and threat detection and identification capabilities.
May 4/16: Raytheon Apace and Airborne Systems has been awarded a contract for the continued low-rate initial production of the Silent Knight Radar system in support of US Special Operations Command. The value of the contract has the potential worth of up to $49.5 million and will continue for the year. The contract will be funded via delivery/task orders, and depending on the requirement may be funded using research, development, test and evaluation; procurement; and operation and maintenance funding.
* Raytheon (Jan 10/07) – Raytheon Wins $135.4 Million Silent Knight Radar Development Contract
* US FedBizOpps Notification (June 21/06) – SILENT KNIGHT TF/TA Radar System Development and Demonstration
* Special Operations Technology (Nov 19/06) – USSOCOM Program Office Review