May 23, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Orbital Sciences announced today its Fairchild Defense Division has been awarded a $16. 5 million contract to supply its Digital Terrain System (DTS) to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for its F-16 aircraft.
The DTS enhances the safety of combat aircraft operations by providing the pilot with predictive ground collision avoidance information through visual and aural commands.
It is primarily intended to prevent controlled flight into terrain situations that can occur when a pilot is momentarily distracted during high-intensity operations at night or during deteriorating weather conditions. It also enhances the combat capability by significantly improving the pilot's situational awareness and improving the options for weapon delivery.
The DTS is already flight-proven through its operational status with the USAF Reserves and the F-16 mid-life update program for the Air Forces of Belgium
, the Netherlands
. The DTS has now been designated as a USAF operational requirement for all of its F-16 aircraft as a result of the high priority the USAF has placed on the safety features offered by Orbital's airborne system.
It is expected that the USAF will extend DTS capability to other fighter aircraft as well in order to meet its goal of improving safety for pilots and aircraft in the hazardous high-speed/low- altitude environment typical of many fighter missions. In fiscal years 1998 and 1999, Congress authorized additional funding for these systems.