Lockheed Martin’s Precision Strike team successfully fired two Spike NLOS all up rounds (AURs) from the AH-64E Apache “Echo” Model V6 at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.
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The successful live fire event verifies the Spike NLOS Long Range Precision Munitions Directed Requirement (LRPM DR) system’s integration onto the Apache platform and allows it to enter qualification testing.
Tom Bargnesi, program management senior manager of the Precision Strike team at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, welcomed the milestone achievement, saying, “The successful integration of Spike NLOS on the Apache platform demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s continued commitment to 21st century security solutions that help our customers complete their missions.”
The demonstration featured two Spike NLOS AURs firing from an Apache platform at a stationary target in two separate scenarios.
“The system’s expansion onto additional platforms, along with its mission-focused defence capabilities, ensures it will help the US Army stay ahead of ready in an ever-evolving threat environment,” Bargnesi added.
The Spike NLOS system will begin testing to qualify the design for airworthiness release (AWR). Once AWR is awarded, the system will be fielded on the US Army’s Apache Echo Model V6 platforms by September 2024.
Spike NLOS is a multipurpose, electro-optical/infrared missile system. Its advanced rocket motor provides capability to reach ranges up to 32 kilometres. Operators can integrate Spike NLOS with ground, aviation or maritime platforms — while leveraging its stand-off capability to strike distant or geographically concealed targets without line of sight.
The weapon’s seeker and wireless datalink provides operators with real-time video imagery and man-in-the-loop control throughout the missile’s flight — this provides operators with the opportunity to alter or abort the mission while en route to the target.
Australia will acquire 29 AH-64E Apache helicopters with a number of spare parts for ongoing maintenance and sustainment of the aircraft as part of LAND 4503 to replace the Australian Army’s current fleet of EC665 Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopters (ARH) from the mid-2020s.
Former defence minister Linda Reynolds said in 2021 on the selection of the Apache, that “The Apache Guardian is the most lethal, most survivable and lowest risk option, meeting all of Defence’s capability, through-life support, security, and certification requirements.”
LAND 4503’s program of delivery aims to support the Australian Army and is designed to contribute to the creation of the modernisation and development of a “networked and hardened” Army.
The AH-64E Apache stands as the world’s most advanced multi-role combat helicopter and represents the backbone of the US Army attack helicopter fleet, as well as a growing number of international defence forces.
The US Army Apache fleet has accumulated more than 4.5 million flight hours. With more than 2,400 Apaches delivered to customers around the world, Boeing is committed to the continuous modernisation of the program to ensure that AH-64 capabilities outpace adversaries to maintain battlefield dominance today and for decades to come.
The acquisition is broken down into three delivery stages, beginning with projected IOC in 2026 and FOC in 2028, including:
- Up to 24 aircraft would be based at one primary location and another five are intended at a training location. The aircraft fleet may also be co-located in one primary location; however, this is yet to be determined.
- IOC for LAND 4503 is based on a squadron of up to 12 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating a deployable troop of four aircraft, continued force generation of four aircraft, and an initial build-up training element of four aircraft. IOC will be supported by trained personnel and support systems.
- FOC for LAND 4503 is based on a regiment of up to 24 aircraft. This organisation would be capable of generating multiple concurrent deployed forces of up to squadron size. FOC will also be supported by a mature training system of up to five aircraft, with trained personnel and support systems.
The government has brought the LAND 4503 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Replacement program forward and aims to acquire a proven and mature, off-the-shelf manned armed helicopter to deliver armed reconnaissance effects in the close and deep contested battlespace in support of the Australian Defence Force.