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Avenger Program History

In August 1987, the Avenger Project Office contracted with the Defense Systems Division of Boeing Company to build and deliver the Avenger system. The Avenger system was developed to defend against helicopters and fixed wing aircraft flying at low altitude, in day or night operations, and in clear or adverse weather conditions.

The initial contract totaled $16.2 million for the first option buy of 20 systems. The second option covering 39 systems was exercised in 1988, the third option for 70 units was exercised in 1989, the fourth option for 72 units in March 1990, and the fifth option for 72 units May 1991. This contract also included an option that was exercised in 1991 for an additional 52 units. After the exercise of the options, the contract value reached $232 million over the 5 years together with associated logistics support costs. During this contract, the Defense Acquisition Board approved the Avenger system for full scale production in April 1990.

In February 1992, the Avenger Project Office awarded a follow-on $436 million 5-year multiyear contract for 679 units. In total, the Army has contracted for 911 units and has an unfunded contract option for another 93 units. The Army was acquiring 237 of the 1,004 Avenger units for the Marine Corps. So, depending on whether the funding for the last year of the multiyear contract was appropriated, the Army would acquire from 674 to 767 Avenger units for its own use. The total estimated life-cycle cost of the program was about $1 billion in then-year dollars.

While this multiyear contract was being negotiated, complete and conclusive EMRO testing of the FLIR had not yet been completed and the significance of the test results were unknown. However, during negotiations, the contractor sought a significant unit cost increase if the new contract were to retain the FLIR performance standards as in the original production contract. Thus, in awarding the contract, the Avenger Project Office sought to avoid an increase in unit costs by not requiring that the FLIR system be subjected. to electromagnetic interference testing as a condition for accepting the additional Avenger systems. Consequently, for all Avenger systems acquired and accepted through May 1996, Avenger crews using the FLIR near a radiation source have a target acquisition screen that was cluttered with interference.

Avenger completed a two phase IOT&E in 1989. Phase I consisted of acquisition and tracking trials at Fort Hunter-Liggett. Phase II consisted of Stinger missile firings at White Sands Missile Range. The Avenger system was found to be operationally effective by DOT&E in the B-LRIP to Congress dated February 28, 1990. Avenger was found to be operationally suitable with some limiting factors. These limiting factors were: back blast damage to the cab at some firing azimuths and elevations; excessive hydrogen chloride gas levels in the cab; need for a improved voltage regulator; and the need for an environmental control unit/ primary power unit (ECU/PPU) for the gunner's cupola.

The Army reports that they have corrected the limiting factors. Prior to fielding, Boeing reinforced the vehicle doors to prevent back blast damage. Also, cab openings and doors received new seals or gaskets to reduce the HCL gas levels. A retrofit was performed to address the voltage regulator problem. A redesigned regulator and a larger alternator were installed on all fielded vehicles, while the new items were cut into production.

An ECU/PPU design was tested and found to address the heat build-up in the cupola. During testing, the ECU/PPU was found to create an EMI problem with the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) and the Radar Control Unit Video. Before fixes could be incorporated, the SBA contracted firm producing the ECU went bankrupt. An alternate source was identified when another firm purchased the defaulter. Fixes have been explored as part of the contract restart. A follow-on test was completed by Redstone Technical Test Center to verify ECU/PPU performance and compatibility. First production units have been accepted.

The new ECU/PPU underwent environmental testing at RTTC, Huntsville. Since the testing used a fixture, not the system, the testing did not provide sufficient operational data needed by OPTEC and DOT&E to provide an adequate evaluation of this issue.

OPTEC (OEC) worked with the PM to plan an ECU/PPU environmental test which satisfied the data requirements for the operational evaluators. The test and evaluation of the Avenger in accordance with the DOT&E approved TEMP dated 20 June 1987 would conclude once the ECU/PPU limiting factors outlined in the B-LRIP dated 28 February 1990 have been adequately addressed. Army testing of alternate source ECUs would examine the following questions: (1) Does the ECU cool the gunner's turret in extreme temperatures? (2) Is the ECU reliable? (3) Are there any safety problems with the ECU? (4) Does the ECU degrade the operational capabilities of the Avenger, for example, the range of the SINCGARS radios? Technical testing to date has addressed these questions, however the Army has yet to test a "production representative" item. When Army technical testing was complete, data would be provided to OPTEC and DOT&E for review and assessment. When the B-LRIP limiting factors have been completely addressed, Avenger would be dropped from DOT&E oversight.

In early 1999 the Army exercised a $14.6 million option on future production of an upgrade kit for Avenger air defense units that would greatly increased their effectiveness beginning 1st Qtr FY00. The Slew-To-Cue (STC) subsystem, a major upgrade enhancement to the Avenger, was expected to improve Avenger's target acquisition, tracking and engagement range by about 50 percent while increasing the number of engagements and kills by more than 50 percent. The system would also significantly improve Avenger's battlespace performance. The $14.6 million contract was for low-rate initial production, full production, contractor logistic support for approximately 100 Avenger fire units.

Boeing delivered the first production unit in 1988, and by 2002 more than 1,100 Avenger units had been delivered to the Army, Marine Corps and National Guard. Upgraded with new products, Avenger production was planned beyond 2005.

Boeing Laser Avenger is an infrared laser system mounted on an Avenger combat vehicle developed by Boeing Combat Systems. Boeing's Laser Avenger took part in tests for the US Air Force and the US Army in 2009, successfully destroying one UAV and 50 IEDs. To keep the Boeing Avenger air defense weapon system up to date against the latest potential threats, Boeing funded its own initiative to fully integrate this laser tracking weapon into the Avenger vehicle. The prototype, called Laser Avenger, has been demonstrating its capabilities over the past three years. It allows the warfighter to flip a switch and shoot a Stinger missile, flip a switch and fire a gun, or toggle another switch and fire the laser.

The Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move [GBAD DE OTM] will demonstrate the capability of a rugged, expeditionary HEL system that can be cued by a radar capable of detecting low radar cross-section threats. Upon completion of the ONR program around 2022, the GBAD DE OTM system would transition into a program of record in the Marine Corps and likely reside alongside the Stinger missile system.

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