Italian avionics group Elettronica is demonstrating the Virgilius integrated electronic warfare (EW) architecture system at its Paris Air Show exhibit (Hall 1 E294), as well as the ELT/572 directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system for protecting against man-portable air defense (Manpad) weapons. It has also unveiled its latest self-protection suite for combat search-and-rescue helicopters.
The U.S. Navy awarded a development contract to Northrop Grumman to upgrade the AN/AAQ-24 large aircraft infrared countermeasures (Laircm) system on CH-53D/E and CH-46E helicopters with a multifunction advanced warning sensor (ATW).
The U.S. Army is expected to award technology development contracts next month for a modular, lightweight infrared countermeasures system to defeat shoulder-fired missiles. BAE Systems, ITT Exelis, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are the announced competitors for the Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) requirement.
Northrop Grumman, named to supply its large-aircraft, infrared-countermeasures (LAIRCM) system on the U.S. Air Force’s new KC-46 tanker, recently demonstrated a podded version of the infrared-countermeasures system on the aircraft the tanker will replace, the KC-135.
As the culmination of a jointly funded cooperation program between Italian electronics house Elettronica and the Elop business of Elbit Systems, the Israeli company yesterday announced a $15 million contract to supply directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) systems for installation on Italian aerial platforms, including the Lockheed Martin C-130J and Alenia C-27J transports, and AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters.
Italy’s Elettronica has entered the last phase of development of its directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system for the anti-missile protection market, and is due to complete ground tests and flight trials by the end of 2009. The project was launched in 2007 to create a system that would protect aircraft from infrared-guided (“heat-seeking”) surface-to-air missiles, and in particular, man-portable air defense systems.
The statistics are sobering: as many as 700,000 anti-aircraft missiles for man-portable air defense systems (Manpads) have been manufactured since the 1970s. Up to 7,000 missiles may be outside state control, possibly in the hands of terrorists. Since these weapons began proliferating in the 1960s, there have been some 35 documented Manpads attacks on civil aircraft.
Total Aircraft Services is exploring the possibility of STCs to install BAE Systems’ Matador infrared missile countermeasure equipment on corporate jets such as the Global Express and BBJ. The system uses modulating IR lamps to disarm shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles.
For business jets operating in potentially hostile areas, Sweden’s Saab might soon offer some protection. The company’s Avitronics division is hoping to receive EASA certification within the next eight months for its Civil Aircraft Missile Protection System (Camps). The company claims the defense system–based on countermeasures already in use on military aircraft–is the only such European system for civil aircraft.
In separate efforts, Jet Aviation and Kollsman are the latest companies to explore possible anti-surface-to-air-missile (SAM) systems. Jet Aviation, a subsidiary of a Swiss-based company with U.S. headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., is reportedly in talks with possible system vendors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
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