The US Air Force (USAF) is moving ahead with plans to equip its Fairchild-Republic A-10C Thunderbolt II combat aircraft with 3D-audio to enhance the situational awareness of its pilots.
Following a request for information (RFI) issued in December 2017, a notification was issued by the service on 5 November disclosing that it is to award Terma a sole-source Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to equip between 150 and 200 of its A-10Cs with a system to provide the pilot with 3D-audio cues.
As noted by the USAF, the overall acquisition strategy of the 3-Dimensional Audio Program is to deliver a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) system to drastically improve the spatial, battlespace, and situational awareness of its A-10C pilots by providing audio cues that are accurate to within 15° of both azimuth and elevation.
Already operational on Royal Danish Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft, the Terma 3D-audio system adds to what was previously just a simple visual warning on a cockpit control panel with a directional audible sound in the pilot's helmet, intuitively informing them where exactly the threat is coming from and enabling them to instinctively react to it.
As noted by Terma, applications for 3D-audio cueing include missile warning system threats; radar warner receiver threats; laser warner system threats; threats from small arms detection systems; indication of terrain obstruction warning and cueing; and applying direction to audio cues to aircraft subsystems to link display and auditory information.
There are approximately 350 A-10s in the inventories of the active USAF, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard, although a number have already been sent for mothballing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
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