After 30 years in service, the Army's AH–64E Apache attack helicopters now have the ability to fly with an unmanned wingman. A new system called Manned-Unmanned Teaming (or MUM-T) allows Apache flight crews to tap into the real-time video feeds, sensors and control systems of nearby Army Shadow and Grey Eagle drones. According to Scout Warrior, the system is already being used in Afghanistan.
"Now before the unit even deploys out of the Forward Arming Refueling Point, or FARP, they can actually bring up the UAS (drone) feed, look through the sensors and see the target they are going to attack up to 50 or 60 miles away," Colonel Jeff Hager of the Army's Apache program told Scout Warrior. The system also allows the helicopter crews to keep tabs on moving targets why they are en route to a destination.
The MUM-T system is similar the Navy's similar cloud computing efforts to share data between drones, manned aircraft and combat ships. The AH-64E, meanwhile, is the latest version of the Apache platform, which boasts a new engine, composite rotor blades and next-generation avionics that make it a lighter, faster and more maneuverable model that the previous Delta edition. The "E" models have already begun flight missions in Afghanistan, but the Army plans to have an arsenal of 690 total AH-64Es by 2025.