Dubai Air Show

Missile protection systems debut

 - December 11, 2006, 9:11 AM

Shown for the first time by Terma, two new countermeasures pods have been developed by the Danish company to protect helicopters and fighter aircraft from ground- or air-launched missiles. Both pods draw on existing technology but have been tailored to meet specific requirements.

The most eye-catching pod of the two is the modular countermeasures pod for fighters (MCP-8F), which is based on an earlier design produced to protect transport aircraft.  However, the addition of a sharper nose cone suitable for high-speed aircraft has increased the overall length from 7.4 feet to just over 13 feet, allowing an eighth countermeasures dispenser to be added.

In its original MCP form developed in the mid-1990s, the pod was fitted to Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) Fokker 60 transports but has since been adapted for installation on German air force Transall C-160s in a pod large enough to accommodate 10 dispensers. But a major redesign was needed to fit supersonic compatible nose and aft sections suitable for such aircraft as the Panavia Tornado and Lockheed Martin F-16. Flight trials on a Tornado are to begin very soon.  

The modular design of the MCP-8F facilitates a number of options including: chaff/flare dispensing, RF countermeasures, a missile warning system, towed decoy, laser warning receivers, directional infrared countermeasures  and other sensors.

The United Arab Emirates F-16E/F Block 60 fighters delivered in May this year are equipped with Terma-produced electronic warfare equipment and the company is one of only four non-U.S. companies to win contracts on the program. UAE’s positive experience with the Danish products could lead to the selection of the other new pod on show here: the Apache modular aircraft survivability equipment (AMASE).

The Amase was developed in some haste to meet a RNAF requirement for self-protection equipment for Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopters deployed to Iraq in June last year.

Terma has supplied more than 1,600 self-protection systems, which enabled the company to speed the development of AMASE for the Dutch Apaches. That was made easier because of commonality with a system already fitted to the air force’s Boeing Chinook.  

The pods contain missile warning and flare dispensing systems that must react almost instantly to a threat from a ground-launched missile, given the very low heights at which the Apache would often operate. Within months of going operational on helicopters flying in Iraq, the RNAF was tasked with deploying aircraft to Afghanistan where crews were anxious to have the  best protection available.