October 8, 2005 EADS and DRS Technologies have agreed to collaborate on U.S. marketing and production of the EADS HELLAS laser-based obstacle warning system that offers unprecedented protection for helicopters against difficult-to-detect obstacles, such as power lines. This agreement covers the EADS Defence Electronics’ HELLAS-W (Warning) obstacle warning system, which already is in operation on Federal German Police helicopters, and the new HELLAS-A (Awareness) obstacle warning system, which is in development for German Forces NH90 helicopters and has been identified for potential use with U.S. military forces.
A HELLAS-A system has been ordered by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) for further testing and evaluation. This unit currently is being adapted for the Special Operations Forces’ specific needs at the EADS Defence Electronics’ facility in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
HELLAS is an early-warning laser radar-based device designed for helicopters that reliably detects obstacles in the flight path, such as power lines and poles, which are difficult to detect visually during flight. The system probes its surroundings with an eye-safe laser beam and can recognize even thin wires at significant distances with high precision. HELLAS also is effective in detecting obstacles, such as trees and wind turbines.
The HELLAS system provides obstacle warning information optically and acoustically, enabling pilots to make avoidance manoeuvres well before reaching the area of risk.