Protecting aircraft from radiofrequency and infrared threats remains a paramount task for the air forces of many countries, as evidenced by the increased activity in this area in the last two years.
The British Air Force may soon start operating new BriteCloud radiofrequency targets on board their Tomado-GR4 aircraft
Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are traditionally laconic when it comes to their military procurement, not to mention airborne electronic systems of self-defense as such. An exception to this rule is Leonardo’s statement that the Indonesian Air Force is increasing the level of self-defense of its Hawk Mk.209 fighter jets by installing a SEER radar warning receiver. According to Dave Appleby from Leonardo, this product will “soon start operating” on these aircraft. According to the company, the system is available in two versions: one closes the frequency range from 0,5 GHz to 18 GHz, and the second covers the range from 2 to 10 GHz.
Meanwhile, in November 2016, Leonardo confirmed that the British Air Force received BriteCloud radio frequency false targets in order to develop a theory of combat use of these targets aboard the Panavia Tornado-GR4 fighter. Appleby noted that this false target “is a digital radio frequency jammer in a fully autonomous unit, reduced to the size of a beverage can. That is, this unit is so small that it can be dropped from a fighter just like a heat trap, allowing you to divert the most advanced missiles with radar guidance and fire control radars from the aircraft. " Although Leonardo does not provide information on when the BriteCloud system could go into service with the Tornado-GR4 fighters. this is expected to happen next year. The company Leonardo said that the appearance of BriteCloud marks an important milestone for British aviation, which, according to Appleby, "will be the first among the Air Force in the world to use such technology." He further noted that the Miysis DIRCM system (Directional Infrared Countermeasure - a system of controlled counteraction to infrared means) was sold to the first customer in 2016. According to the company, the system can be installed on helicopters and wide-body aircraft, providing an all-round cover from infrared-guided missiles, using lasers to neutralize them. “Miysis is ready for export and the first customer is a foreign customer, but we can’t say anything more about this,” Appleby added.
European airborne EW projects also focus on kinetic capabilities. At the end of 2016, the company Orbital ATK received a contract worth 14,7 million dollars in accordance with the US law on the sale weapons and military equipment to foreign countries to finalize the existing Raytheon AGM-38B High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) missiles in the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) configuration. The reports indicate that the delivery of 19 converted missiles will be completed by September 2018, they will be installed on Tornado-ECR EW aircraft of the Italian Air Force. Orbital noted that according to the agreement, the 500th missile was handed over to the U.S. Navy last May. In addition, the program to create a new version of the rocket under the designation AGM-88E AARGM-ER (Extended Range - increased range) began in 2016, and as the company said, the project aims to “develop hardware and software modifications to improve the characteristics of AARGM, including increased range, vitality and effectiveness against new complex threats. ” They also added that ongoing activities in this direction will focus on designing a new rocket engine, updating software, further developing the design and testing. The technology development and risk reduction phase began last year, and experimental missiles will be delivered to the US the fleet in 2019 year.
American companies are also active in Europe. Last year, Northrop Grumman achieved success; it was chosen to supply LAIRCM (Large Aircraf Infra-Red Countermeasure) IR countermeasure systems to be installed on board the Bombardier Global Express-5000 German Air Force used for the transport of high-ranking officials. Information about the completion of the installation of these systems has not yet been received. The German Air Force also undertook to increase the level of protection of its Tornado-ECR / IDS fighters, intending to install on them containers with EW Saab BOZ-101 equipment. From 2017 to 2020, the year will set up a total of 39 containers. The BOZ-101 system includes a warning system for an attacking missile and an automatic fall-off system for electronic countermeasures with the ability to launch false thermal targets to combat the infrared-guided attacking from the bottom and from the side.
The Northrop Grumman infrared LAIRCM countermeasure system will be installed on German aircraft Global Express-5000 used to transport high-ranking people
The Dutch Air Force reportedly intends to modernize its REP-Terma PIDSU assault rifles, mounted on F-16A / B Fighting Falcon fighters. These containers will be upgraded to the PIDS + configuration by adding a Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) missile warning system and a false thermal target dropping machine that can launch them diagonally. After modernization, the aircraft is guaranteed to be able to deal with missiles with infrared guidance of the surface-to-air class. The basis of this upgrade is the addition of the AN / AAR-60 (V) 2 MILDS-F MAWS missile launch detection system developed by Airbus / Hensoldt. The installation of a dropping machine will expand the functions of the PIDSU container, which until then could only drop dipole reflectors to combat missiles with radar guidance from the surface-to-air and air-to-air classes; Now he is able to distract and infrared-guided missiles.
In December, X-NUMX, the Dutch F-2016A / B aircraft, also received upgraded REP containers for the Northrop Grumman AN / ALQ-16 Block-ll. The focus of the modernization was on improving the architecture of the digital receiver and the irradiator that make up the container. They received libraries of radio potential bands of the potential enemy to identify and locate threats and then generate deliberate interference to neutralize them. Judging by open sources, the AN / ALQ-131 system covers the radio frequency range from 131 to 2 GHz and is capable of performing simultaneous jamming using 20 of different waveforms. On the F-48A / B fighters of the Dutch Air Force, the original REP / AN / ALQ-16 system was installed back in the 131 year. Each AN / ALQ-1996 Block-II system costs more than a million dollars, and the Air Force acquired 131 of such containers.
The EW container systems are also being developed by the Ukrainian company Radioniks. announced in November 2016 of the beginning of flight tests of its onboard electronic protection system "Omut-KM". Tests on board the aircraft must confirm the capabilities of the Omut system, which has already passed ground and laboratory tests. For testing, the system was installed on the Ukrainian Air Force Su-25 attack aircraft. The Omut system can be offered both in container configuration and for installation inside the aircraft. The company notes that the architecture of the Omut system allows you to install it on the Su-27 fighter. Not reported on the beginning and timing of deliveries of this system and in general about installing it on the aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force. In addition, the company also does not provide information about the characteristics of its system.
Leonardo celebrated the first shipments of its Miided IR infrared control system to an unnamed customer. Lasers are used in the system to neutralize attacking missiles with infrared radiation.
In May 2016, the Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies Company (KRET) announced the launch of deliveries of a new radio-electronic protection complex (KRZ) for attack helicopters Mi-28Н “Night Hunter” of the Russian Air Force. In a press release KRET said that the CRZ includes: a system for determining laser irradiation, a warning device for a rocket attack of the ultraviolet range, an automatic device for dropping false thermal targets and dipole reflectors, and a laser system for protection against missiles with infrared guidance. The press release does not mention the name of the new system, how many will be supplied, and when the deliveries and installation of the Mi-28Н will begin. The decision to install a new HWR could be a response to the deficiencies in the equipment of this helicopter identified during the Syrian conflict. For example., 12 April 2016, the helicopter Mi-28H was hit by a missile from MANPADS in the vicinity of the city of Homs, both crew members were killed.
Surprisingly, the Mi-28H helicopters are equipped with an electronic countermeasure complex Vitebsk L370-57President-S. According to open sources, this complex contains exactly the same equipment as the new complex, which KRET announced about installing it on Mi-2Н helicopters. The question arises whether the President-S / L28-370 complex was installed on all Mi-5H helicopters and was the helicopter that was shot down by April 12 equipped with this complex? In addition, is the KRET statement a consequence of the requirement of the Russian Ministry of Defense for the installation of the President-S / L370-5 complex for the entire fleet of Mi-28Н helicopters? Even more confusing are some reports that claim that the helicopter was not shot down from MANPADS. and crashed as a result of a technical malfunction. Later, in August 2016, KRET announced that it offers the Electronic Control System and Electronic Intelligence Lever-AB, which is installed on the export version of the multi-purpose transport helicopter Mi-8MTPR-1. Little is known about the characteristics of the Lever-AB system, for example, it can jam radio-frequency threats within a radius of approximately 100 km.
At the end of last year, the American company Harris announced it had received a contract worth 90 million dollars for the supply of its Moroccan air force’s integrated kit of electronic warfare AN / ALQ-211 (V) 4 AIDEWS (Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite). The announcement says that these AN / ALQ-211 (V) 4 systems will be installed on the F-16C / D Block-62 + fighter jets, which the Moroccans have respectively 15 and 8 pieces. AN / ALQ-211 (V) 4 protection kit is installed inside the aircraft. It consists of a broadband digital receiver, which determines the transmission of radio signals in a complex electromagnetic environment and which can neutralize dipole reflectors to neutralize such threats. According to Harris, deliveries of these systems will begin in the middle of 2018.
Meanwhile, in February 2017 of the year, it was announced that the company Terma will supply containers of electronic warfare MASE Modular Aircraf Self-Protection Equipment for Trush S-2RT660 turboprop aircraft supplied by United Arab Air Forces to fight terrorist groups. Each plane will carry two MASE containers connected to an EW management system also developed by Terma AN / ALQ-213. Emirates Air Force will receive a total of X-NUMX S-24RT2 aircraft.
Light SPEAR from Elbit Systems, combining the RTR and EW subsystems, demonstrates a tendency to develop systems for UAVs that are capable of collecting intelligence data and protecting the carrier platform.
Also in this region, we see the emergence of new EW products, for example, the controlled anti-IR system SPREOS (Self-Protection Radar Electro-Optic System) of the Israeli company Bird Aerosystems. Presented at the Paris exhibition Eurosatory 2016 system is designed to protect air platforms from missiles with IR-guided, in particular from those that are fired from MANPADS. According to the company, the product is in the final stages of development and it is possible that its testing has already begun on board the aircraft.
System of controlled counteraction to SPREOS (Self-Protection Radar Electro-Optic System) infrared means developed by Israeli company Bird Aerosystems
Another Israeli company Elbit Systems introduced its new electronic protection system Light SPEAR, designed for installation on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). It is reported that the company has developed a system not only to ensure the safety of UAVs, but also to collect intelligence information in areas that may be dangerous for manned aircraft. According to some reports, Light SPEAR is based on the development system of the company Elisra, which is already installed on a number of aircraft and helicopters of the Israeli Air Force, but has a smaller mass, size and power consumption in order to optimize work on the UAV. The architecture of Light SPEAR is based on a combination of an electronic intelligence system, mainly designed to identify, localize and categorize radar threats, and an electronic jamming system, the task of which is to interfere with detected threats. The company states that they use the so-called DRFM (Digital Radio Frequency Memory) approach, whereby several jamming channels can be used simultaneously to neutralize threats in a wide frequency range. The company does not disclose whether the Light SPEAR system has been commissioned, on which UAVs it is installed or can be installed. A statement from Elbit says that it also developed the Micro SPEAR jammer, which "is an extremely compact EW system designed to protect UAVs and electronic attacks." These two systems of the company are joined by the Air Keeper radio intelligence / EW system, which “collects intelligence information and has the ability to interfere with enemy’s radio-frequency means, which allows it to install on any existing cargo, transport or passenger aircraft such as , intelligence gathering and REP. Reducing the effectiveness of enemy radar and radio systems. Air Keeper is also able to determine the coordinates of communications, radar and other similar systems. ”
The appearance of the Light SPEAR system indicates a growing trend in equipping drones with electronic protection systems. For example, in April, 2017, the American company General Atomics, demonstrated its MQ-9 Reaper drone (photo below), which took off with a Raytheon AN / ALR-69A radar warning system receiver installed in one of the underwing gondolas. At the same time, it is not clear that the US Air Force (the main operator of this UAV) will install the ANIALR-69A system on all devices or purchase only a few systems that will be installed on the MQ-9 UAV when operating in areas with the possibility of external influence. Although drones have always been considered as an ideal tool for the so-called “stupid, dangerous and dirty” tasks, given the 6,8 cost of a million dollars for one MQ-9 UAV, it is not surprising that work is being done to protect these platforms and use them to collect RTR data on battlefield. In December 2016, at the International UAV exhibition in the Canadian city of Toronto, Cognitive Systems presented its EW system, designed for installation on a UAV. The system, which is a chip weighing 80 grams, can conduct real-time reconnaissance of radio frequency signals, identify them and determine their location.
Over the past two years, the countries of the Middle East have become much more active in purchasing self-defense systems for aircraft. For example, at the end of 2016, Egypt acquired the AIM / AAR-47 Common Missile Warning System developed by BAE Systems to deploy their attack helicopters Boeing AH-64D Apache, CH-47D Chinook helicopters and UH-multi-purpose helicopters 60A / M Black Hawk. The 81,4 million dollar deal includes training, technical assistance and equipment testing. Electronic defense systems were also sold to the Egyptian Air Force through the sale of weapons and military equipment to foreign countries (Foreign Military Sale). These are the AN / AAR-60 and AN / ALE-47 Airbus / Hensoldt dropping dipole reflectors and false heat targets designed for two Cessna AC-208 Combat Caravan light attack aircraft purchased from the American Orbital ATK at the end of the year 2016.
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Articles from this series:
With eyes wide open: Aerial electronic warfare. Part of 1
With eyes wide open: Aerial electronic warfare. Part of 2