Anti-missile program for airliners on a fast track.Under pressure from Congress to deploy anti-missile systems rapidly on commercial airliners, the Department of Homeland Security Noun 1. Department of Homeland Security - the federal department that administers all matters relating to homeland security
executive department - a federal department in the executive branch of the government of the United States is expected to award multiple contracts by year's end.
So far, however, it is uncertain whether any of the available technologies to defeat man-portable air defenses (manpads) can be installed on commercial aircraft without burdening the airlines with billions of dollars in future maintenance and operations costs. The procurement of defensive systems alone could cost the U.S. government anywhere from $3 million to $8 million per aircraft, experts estimate, although several companies claim to have cheaper solutions.
Under the Department of Homeland Security's counter-manpads program, two or more contractors--to be selected in late December--will receive $2 million each to develop detailed proposals over the next six months, outlining exactly how they would go about installing protective devices and how the systems would be integrated into day-to-day airline operations.
"DHS DHS Department of Homeland Security (USA)
DHS Department of Human Services
DHS Department of Health Services
DHS Demographic and Health Surveys
DHS Dirhams (Morocco national currency) is in a very sensitive position," said an industry expert. "They have a tremendous amount of pressure being put on them by Congress to get this thing on contract before Christmas." Congressmen want to prove to the American public that they are addressing the problem.
The problem, in this case, is the widespread fear of shoulder-fired missiles, which have threatened military aircraft for decades, but have not until recently been viewed as a menace to commercial passenger jets. A shoulder-fired missile was fired in November 2002 against a civilian Israeli jetliner, in Mombasa, Kenya. DHS officials, nevertheless, concede that they do not have explicit intelligence about manpads threats aimed at U.S. airliners.
The department has "no specific, credible information about planned manpads attacks against U.S. commercial interests--but they remain a concern for the foreseeable future," according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. an October 15 briefing that DHS officials gave to potential contractors, in Washington, D.C.
Since 1978, 35 commercial aircraft (mostly propeller aircraft) have been targets of non-terrorist attacks in war zones. The attack on the Israeli jetliner was the first manpads launch against a commercial aircraft outside of a combat zone, said the DHS briefing. Meanwhile, "the potential for terrorist attack grows as we increase measures to counter onboard bombings and hijackings."
Shortly after the Mombasa incident, an interagency in·ter·a·gen·cy
Involving or representing two or more agencies, especially government agencies. task force--led by Penrose C. Albright, DHS assistant secretary for plans, programs and budget--was formed to examine available options to equip airliners with infrared countermeasures This article is about missile counter measures. For IRCMonitor, see Wikipedia:IRCMonitor.
Infrared countermeasures (IRCM) are devices designed to protect aircraft from infrared homing ("heat seeking") missiles by confusing the missiles' infrared , which have been used on military aircraft for decades, to deflect heat-seeking missiles.
The Defense Department has a major advisory role in the task force, taking advantage of the Pentagon's expertise in this arena.
"We gave them a baseline against which to draw conclusions and make some judgments about how to proceed, what kind of technologies are applicable to commercial air," said a Defense Department official who participated in the task force, and asked to not be quoted by name. The Pentagon also advised DHS on how to "engage industry," the official said. "We provided recommendations on how to structure solicitations and how to define requirements."
The Pentagon plans to let DHS benefit from military investments in counter-manpads systems, he added.
Once the DHS contractors complete the six-month study phase, two will be selected for a subsequent 18-month "prototype development and qualification" program, after which they will demonstrate and test-fly two prototype systems. In this phase of the program, each contractor will receive $45 million. The Federal Aviation Administration Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), component of the U.S. Department of Transportation that sets standards for the air-worthiness of all civilian aircraft, inspects and licenses them, and regulates civilian and military air traffic through its air traffic control must approve any devices before they can be installed on aircraft.
DHS wants the anti-missile systems to be easy to maintain and painless to operate, causing "no delays to take-off and landing preparations," the briefing noted. They must be able to run for 3,000 hours without breakdowns, and should not demand any special test equipment. They cannot interfere in any way with surrounding flight operations, nor should they pose safety or environmental hazards.
DHS said that the desired cost of a counter-manpads system is about $1 million per aircraft, assuming a buy of at least 1,000. (U.S. airlines operate nearly 7,000 planes). The cost to operate the system should be less than $500 per take-off and landing. But experts contend that these estimates are overly optimistic op·ti·mist
1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.
2. A believer in philosophical optimism.
Although the counter-manpads program so far has not commanded the big dollars usually associated with Pentagon procurement projects, companies expect it could be worth billions, if the U.S. government decides to equip every airliner, and foreign airlines decide to follow the U.S. lead.
A marketing war already is raging. Competitors include several defense industry giants and smaller firms that believe they can challenge the heavyweights. The counter-manpads technology offered to DHS essentially falls into two camps: laser-based systems (known as laser directed infrared countermeasures) and more traditional decoy-based systems, which expend ex·pend
tr.v. ex·pend·ed, ex·pend·ing, ex·pends
1. To lay out; spend: expending tax revenues on government operations. See Synonyms at spend.
2. flares to deflect incoming missiles. Laser directional systems concentrate a beam of infrared energy on the missile seeker and jam it. Both types of technologies--the directed laser beam or the decoys--require some form of a missile-warning device.
DHS told contractors that the department is "neutral and will not advocate any particular solution until proven operationally and cost-effectively viable."
Laser systems generally are considered the most sophisticated of the available technologies, but also the costliest, the least mature, and possibly too heavy for many aircraft. Flares, on the other hand, are battle tested and widely employed in military aircraft, but, as most pyrotechnics pyrotechnics (pī'rōtĕk`nĭks, pī'rə–), technology of making and using fireworks. Gunpowder was used in fireworks by the Chinese as early as the 9th cent. , are perceived as too hazardous for use in non-combat environments.
One of the proposed laser systems is a modified version of the IR countermeasures That form of military science that, by the employment of devices and/or techniques, has as its objective the impairment of the operational effectiveness of enemy activity. See also electronic warfare. technology the Air Force is buying for the C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft. The LAIRCM LAIRCM Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (large aircraft IR countermeasures) could be adapted for commercial aircraft on time to meet the DHS schedule, for a price of $1 million per aircraft, said Jack Pledger PLEDGER. The same as pawner. (q.v.) , director of business development at Northrop Grumman Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is an aerospace and defense conglomerate that is the result of the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company is the third largest defense contractor for the U.S. Defensive Systems Division. The company already has delivered 58 systems to military customers, he said.
A similar technology is being marketed by BAE Systems BAE Systems
British manufacturer of aircraft, missiles, avionics, naval vessels, and other aerospace and defense products. BAE Systems was formed (1999) from the merger of British Aerospace (BAe) with Marconi Electronic Systems. , which is developing a laser IR countermeasures system for Army helicopters. The cost would be comparable to LAIRCM or lower, said Burt Keirstead, program manager at BAE Systems. The company is concerned about lowering the maintenance and operation costs, Keirstead said. "There is a tradeoff between acquisition costs and life cycle costs," he said. "The more you spend upfront the more you save later."
The Pentagon official who advises DHS said that laser systems certainly offer the best performance, but that the cost could be much higher than $1 million per aircraft. Defense Department studies project laser IR CM systems would range from $3 million to $8 million. "Lasers are certainly the most sophisticated solution and have the greatest growth potential to adapt to future generations of threats," the official said. "But there are substantial savings in flare systems."
One of the competitors offering a flare-based protection system is Avisys, a small firm that recently won a $12 million contract to equip Jordan's head of state Airbus 340 wide-body jet with airborne infrared countermeasures.
Raytheon, teamed with Israel Aircraft Industries' Elta division, also is proposing a flare-based system dubbed SafeFlight. The missile warning system, made by Elta, is a pulse Doppler radar A system for measuring speed that is based on the Doppler effect. It is used in police radar systems as well as for measuring the velocity of hurricanes and tornadoes. See Doppler effect. . The IR countermeasure coun·ter·meas·ure
A measure or action taken to counter or offset another one.
action taken to counteract some other action
Noun 1. dispenser, supplied by Raytheon, releases "invisible, environmentally safe material into the atmosphere," said a company spokesman.
Avisys claims that decoy-based systems have received an unfair bad rap, mostly due to news photos published in papers and magazines, often showing military aircraft spewing pellets of burning pyrotechnics.
"It's a misrepresentation misrepresentation
In law, any false or misleading expression of fact, usually with the intent to deceive or defraud. It most commonly occurs in insurance and real-estate contracts. False advertising may also constitute misrepresentation. of the technology," because modern flares don't "burn" that intensely, said James Carey For the communications theorist James W. Carey click here James W. Carey
James Carey took part in the Phoenix Park murders and then informed on his compatriots from the the Invincibles to the British authorities. , vice president of Avisys. Airplanes that employ older flares tend to release lots of them. But with modern flares, only four to six expendables are released and they burn for two seconds. Older pyrotechnic decoys burn for five to six seconds.
The more advanced flares, he added, "don't burn in the classic sense. ... They are simply oxidizing very quickly once they leave the airplane, raising the heat to draw the missile off. But they are not pyrotechnic" like fireworks fireworks: see pyrotechnics.
Explosives or combustibles used for display. Of ancient Chinese origin, fireworks evidently developed out of military rockets and explosive missiles and accompanied the spread of military explosives westward to .
"New decoys generate heat, but the temperatures are the same as the aircraft engines, so they can fly covert in the IR spectrum," Carey said.
Even though Carey recognizes that lasers are the "desirable solution," he believes that the decoy-based systems offer a more attractive short-term solution. "We know there are some implementation issues In the Business world, companies frequently set-up a connection between which they transfer data. When the connection is being set-up, it is referred to as implementation. When issues occur during this phase, they are known as implementation issues. that we have to solve during this program, such as the safety aspects of the dispensers and decoys."
The Avisys technology would cost about $700,000 per aircraft, including the modifications needed in the airframes, said Carey.
Laser advocates speculate that the FAA never would approve flares or decoys on U.S. airliners. But Carey noted that the FAA has granted waivers to foreign aircraft equipped with flares.
Avisys is scheduled to deliver the Jordanian Airbus in January, equipped with a system called WIPPS (wide-body integrated platform protection system). It combines an ultraviolet missile warning system with a Doppler radar device--which looks for objects approaching at speeds greater than .8 Mach, and a decoy DECOY. A pond used for the breeding and maintenance of water-fowl. 11 Mod. 74, 130; S. C. 3 Salk. 9; Holt, 14 11 East, 571. dispenser. The hardware weighs 250 pounds, including the expendables. Flares are dispensed in the front and the back of the aircraft.
This technology is not as susceptible to false alarms as other systems, Carey said, because it only responds to "hot" objects moving at very high speeds.
Pledger, from Northrop Grumman, said that directional laser systems have lower false alarm rates than flares. Nevertheless, "there is no system in the world completely foolproof." The company also is working to reduce the weight of the LAIRCM system by taking out unneeded power supplies and cables, he said.
Performance features such as false-alarm rates and weight are important factors, said the Pentagon official. But the DHS also emphasizes reliability and life-cycle costs, which means that the winning contractor likely will have to demonstrate it can manufacture these systems in a way that minimizes failures of any components.
"There is concern at DHS about reliability, size and weight," said the defense official. "They don't want to increase drag on Verb 1. drag on - last unnecessarily long
last, endure - persist for a specified period of time; "The bad weather lasted for three days"
2. the aircraft, which would drive up fuel consumption."
An industry source noted that, even if the U.S. government agreed to pay for the hardware, it is not yet clear how much of a financial burden it would be for the airlines to maintain the equipment. "This is where the hang-up is," said the industry expert. "The airlines are very concerned about this."
DHS officials so far have not discussed with the airlines whether they'll need special maintenance facilities in airports around the world, what support costs they will incur and, notably, whether airplanes would automatically get grounded when the system malfunctions. Grounded airplanes would translate into big losses that airlines could not afford, the expert said.
"All these issues have to be addressed within the 24-month program," he said. "Logistics and affordability are far and away the most important things on the program."
'Smart' Flares Being Designed To Defeat Heat-Seeking Missiles
Future military aircraft, such as the Air Force F/A-22 and the Joint Strike Fighter A strike fighter is a fighter aircraft which is also capable of attacking surface targets, including ships. It differs from an attack aircraft in that the aircraft remains a capable fighter. , will be equipped with "smart" decoy flares designed to defeat the most sophisticated heat-seeking missiles. Unlike traditional flares, which are dropped from aircraft like "hot bricks," these new infrared countermeasure devices will be able to fly predetermined pre·de·ter·mine
v. pre·de·ter·mined, pre·de·ter·min·ing, pre·de·ter·mines
1. To determine, decide, or establish in advance: trajectories, alongside the aircraft.
Called "kinematic kin·e·mat·ics
n. (used with a sing. verb)
The branch of mechanics that studies the motion of a body or a system of bodies without consideration given to its mass or the forces acting on it. " flares, they are considered "the state of the art in pyrotechnic decoys," said Mark Driver, director of advanced countermeasures technology at Kilgore Flares Co. The firm is a subcontractor to BAE Systems for the development and production of infrared decoys for the F/A-22 fighter and the JSF (JavaServerFaces) A standard framework of components for building rich user interfaces for Java applications. JavaServer Faces run on the server, but are displayed on the client.
JSF - JavaServer Faces .
"Kinematic flares are the most sophisticated," Driver said, "They are an order of magnitude A change in quantity or volume as measured by the decimal point. For example, from tens to hundreds is one order of magnitude. Tens to thousands is two orders of magnitude; tens to millions is three orders of magnitude, etc. more complex than the old-style flares."
The availability of increasingly more advanced heat-seeking missiles is pushing the development of this technology. Traditional flares-burning pyrotechnics that are dropped from aircraft to fool incoming missiles-will not be effective against the latest missile infrared guidance technology, he said. "Modern threats are sophisticated enough that they can tell the difference between a falling brick and a moving aircraft."
Meanwhile, the military services continue to upgrade their current aircraft with new types of airborne expendable devices that are not kinematic, but offer other improvements, such as an aircraft-like signature, making it easier for the decoy to confuse the incoming missile.
Kilgore currently is designing a new flare for the B-52 bomber, Driver said. The current decoys employed in the B-52 have been out of production for more than 25 years. The last manufacturer was the Longhorn The code name for the Windows Vista operating system. After the client version was renamed "Vista" in 2005, Longhorn referred to the server version until it was officially named Windows Server 2008 in May of 2007. See Windows Vista. Ammunition Plant, in Texas, which no longer exists.
One common technique to boost the performance of flares is to mix different types of decoys, like a cocktail, explained Driver. "When you have a mix of flares with different signatures, the effectiveness is enhanced."
The materials used in flares constantly are evolving, to keep up with advances in infrared missiles threats, explained Carl Lohkamp, pyrotechnics development director at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Noun 1. Naval Surface Warfare Center - the agency that provides scientific and engineering and technical support for all aspects of surface warfare
NSWC in Crane, Indiana Crane is a town in Martin County, Indiana, United States. The population was 203 at the 2000 census. Geography
Crane is located at (38.892703, -86.901294)GR1. . The center is the lead Navy laboratory and design house for pyrotechnics.
Several types of military aircraft are being equipped with new flares made of iron-derived lightweight alloys, developed at Crane. Unlike traditional pyrotechnic flares, the advanced decoys contain tiny porous metallic wafers that react with the oxygen in the air to produce heat in a temperature range similar to the temperature of the aircraft. The oxidation happens quickly and is hardly visible to the naked eye, Lohkamp said. "In the daytime, unless you have the right background, you'd never know that anything was ejected."
A single cartridge (about 6 inches long and 1.4 inches in diameter) can hold more than a thousand wafers. Once they are ejected into the air stream, they react with the oxygen and produce heat.
These types of flares have potential application on commercial airplanes, because they would be less likely to ignite a fire than older pyrotechnic burning flares.
Crane developed these advanced material flares in partnership with Alloy Surfaces Co., based in Chester Township, Pennsylvania Chester Township is a township in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 4,604 at the 2000 census. Geography
Chester Township is located at (39.845411, -75.393857)GR1. . The company now owns the patent and produces the flares.
"We are working with Alloy Surfaces to perfect the material. It is constantly being changed," Lohkamp said.
The NSWC Noun 1. NSWC - the agency that provides scientific and engineering and technical support for all aspects of surface warfare
Naval Surface Warfare Center also developed a new flare for the C-17 Air Force transport airplane. The first large production contract for this flare was awarded to Armtec Corporation in Camden, Arkansas Camden is the county seat of Ouachita County in south Arkansas, United States.GR6. According to 2006 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city is 12,024. .
"We try to not be a production house, but only meet special needs," said Lohkamp. He said NSWC Crane serves as an "evaluator" of technology to help companies improve their products and meet military requirements. The lab recently was recommended to be the lead test agency for the qualification of Joint Strike Fighter infrared countermeasures. "We partner with companies. We do not compete against them," said Lohkamp. "We are the watchdogs, the stewards of the technology."
Crane anticipates becoming the "technical agent" in the Navy's program to develop a new laser-based directed IR countermeasure for tactical aircraft, called TADIRCM TADIRCM Tactical Aircraft Direct Infrared Countermeasures . The lab would work in support of the program office, at the Naval Air Systems Command The Naval Air Systems Command, or NAVAIR, is the part of the United States Navy which provides materiel support for naval aircraft and airborne weapon systems, such as guided missiles. NAVAIR was established in 1966 as the successor to the Navy's Bureau of Naval Weapons (BuWeps). .
The Naval Research Laboratory Noun 1. Naval Research Laboratory - the United States Navy's defense laboratory that conducts basic and applied research for the Navy in a variety of scientific and technical disciplines
NRL already built a DIRCM DIRCM Directed Infrared Countermeasures
DIRCM Directional Infrared Countermeasure prototype system for a fighter aircraft fighter aircraft
Aircraft designed primarily to secure control of essential airspace by destroying enemy aircraft in combat. Designed for high speed and maneuverability, they are armed with weapons capable of striking other aircraft in flight. . A congressional add-on in fiscal year 2004 would provide funds for NRL Noun 1. NRL - the United States Navy's defense laboratory that conducts basic and applied research for the Navy in a variety of scientific and technical disciplines
Naval Research Laboratory to upgrade the technology with a new infrared missile warning system and a new turret.
The TADIRCM program is not in the Navy's budget yet, but Crane officials anticipate funding will be available in fiscal year 2006.
If the TADIRCM development is successful, the technology could transition to commercial aircraft, Lohkamp said. Although expendables cost less than laser DIRCM systems, over the long term, lasers could become more attractive, depending on usage patterns. Once the laser is up and running it could be relatively inexpensive to operate, compared to releasing flares. Specific cost estimates are difficult to do without knowing the mission requirements, Lohkamp said.