Cassidian’s obstacle warning system certified for NH90 helicopters

Having completed its final qualification review, Eurocopter has certified the MilOWS (Military Obstacle Warning System) for the NH90 military transport helicopter.

NH90 MilOWS zugelassen

Die NH90 der Bundeswehr werden mit dem Hinderniswarnsystem MilOWS (vorne rechts) ausgerüstet (Foto: Cassidian).  


The system was developed and built by Cassidian and is from the Sferion SferiSense range. There are now no further obstacles to delivering the 150 warning systems for the NH90 to the Bundeswehr and the Finnish armed forces.

In completing its qualification flights on the NH90, MilOWS gave poof of its credentials for use in a military setting. The Bundeswehr will now have the first military helicopters in the world to be fitted with a laser-based, real-time obstacle warning system. These helicopters will thus be able to carry out difficult missions in bad visibility more safely.

“The military version of the obstacle warning system is a development based on customer requirements that will make flying helicopters in military conditions safer. The civil system has been in use with great success for many years with the German Federal Police, for example,” said Rolf Wirtz, Head of Mission Systems at Cassidian.

The laser-based, electro-optical system reliably detects obstacles in the flight path such as very thin cables, even when they are difficult for the pilot to see. MilOWS projects the image of the surrounding landscape onto the helmet visor. The qualification flights successfully conducted on the NH90 have confirmed in every way that the exacting requirements that have to be met to detect obstacles reliably and early have been fulfilled.

The system scans the area ahead of the helicopter using a laser beam that poses no danger to the human eye. It can detect even thin wires with a high level of precision at a distance of over one kilometre.

MilOWS classifies potential obstacles in the categories wires, masts or individual standing objects as obstacle symbols that are superimposed onto a video or FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) video. The pilot sees this information on the visor of his helmet or on a multifunctional display in the cockpit. Alarms also sound when an obstacle or the ground is dangerously close. The crew is therefore able to identify and circumvent obstacles in time.

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