That's all well and good for the U.S. military but what about smaller militaries throughout the world that have a need for attack helicopter capability, but don't have the big military budgets to afford such expensive aircraft?
That's where the Weapon Stores Management System (WSMS) from the Moog Inc. Integrated Defense Systems segment in Orlando, Fla., can come in.
Moog airborne weapons experts have designed the WSMS as an add-on kit to convert the seven-seat Bell 407 four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter into a formidable military attack helicopter with machine guns and laser-guided missiles.
The Bell 407 is frequently used for corporate and offshore transport, as an air ambulance, law enforcement, electronic news gathering and movie making.
The Moog WSMS also could help convert other light or medium-sized utility helicopters to the military attack role, as well as light general aviation aircraft and typically unarmed military observation aircraft.
"Fixed-wing application can do smart bombs, and anything else in the smart-weapons category, such as the Paveway laser-guided bomb, as well as TOW missiles and the CiRiT missile," says Jason Reichard, business unit director Moog Integrated Defense Systems.
The CiRiT missile is a 2.75-inch laser-guided rocket, similar to the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rockets.
The target market for the WSMS primarily is foreign military sales, Reichard says, but also for covert operations by U.S. Special Forces, which could use commercial helicopters or even fixed-wing crop dusters such as the Air Tractor as disguised weapons platforms.
The WSMS uses a stores-management computer that measures 6 by 5 inches, and is 3 1/4 inches high and weighs 4 pounds, Reichard says. It has interfaces to MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC-429 avionics databuses, as well as to Ethernet, RS232 and RS422 data networks.
The third-generation WSMS conversion kit, introduced last year, meets MIL-STD-461F and MIL-STD-810 for environmental ruggedness.
For the future, Moog engineers plan to adapt the WSMS conversion kits for commercial ground vehicles and utility boats. Company officials say they are interested in negotiating with additional prime contractors to integrate the system on their platforms.
For more information contact Moog Integrated Defense Systems online at www.moog.com/markets/defense.