High Alert: A-10 to Get Upgraded 3D Surround Sound System

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A U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt II conducts a combat air patrol mission over an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on Sept. 21, 2019. The simple design of the twin-engine A-10 and its ability to loiter and maneuver at low air speeds and altitudes makes it an accurate, effective, and survivable weapons-delivery platform. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)
A U.S. A-10 Thunderbolt II conducts a combat air patrol mission over an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia on Sept. 21, 2019. The simple design of the twin-engine A-10 and its ability to loiter and maneuver at low air speeds and altitudes makes it an accurate, effective, and survivable weapons-delivery platform. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft is officially about to get some surround sound.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on Wednesday awarded Terma North America Inc. a $60 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract to retrofit 328 3D audio systems for the close-air support aircraft's cockpit, according to a Defense Department announcement. The company is a subsidiary of Terma A/S, a Danish defense and aerospace company.

Pilots have multiple audio signals coming at them, making it difficult to discern certain radio calls and warnings. The 3D audio system will give pilots the ability to distinguish between signals and discern where they're coming from.

Last year, the service said it had planned to award a sole-source contract to Terma to integrate the enhancement. The upgrade would "drastically improve the spatial, battlespace and situational awareness of the A-10C pilots," according to a request for information (RFI) published at the time.

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The 3D audio technology has previously been used in the Danish F-16 Fighting Falcon Missile Warner System upgrade.

The A-10, which entered service in 1976 and has deployed to the Middle East, Europe and the Pacific, has also played an outsized role in Afghanistan and the air campaign that began in 2014 against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, helping provide close-air support for Iraqi and U.S. partner forces on the ground.

The latest news comes after the Air Force made another major investment into the aircraft, demonstrating its willingness to keep the A-10 around longer and boost its survivability in a high-threat environment.

In August, officials announced that Boeing Co. was awarded a $999 million IDIQ contract to create up to 112 new A-10 wing assemblies and spare wing kits for aircraft that are slated to receive the upgrade. The program is known as the "A-10-Thunderbolt II Advanced-Wing Continuation Kit," or "ATTACK."

The Air Force estimates 109 A-10s still need to be re-winged following a previous $1.1 billion "Enhanced Wing Assembly" contract, which began in 2011 and completed this year.

The 3D audio work will be performed in the U.S. and Denmark, the Defense Department said.

The Air Force will use fiscal 2018 and 2019 funds in the amount of $8.3 million toward the effort; the work is scheduled to be completed by February 2024, the announcement states.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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