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Defense against advanced threat missile systems highlighted by Air Force EC managers.

The Air Force's electronic combat (EC) systems development office (SAF/AQPE) is giving priority to the acquisition of systems to counter anti-aircraft missile threats. The increased attention being given to defeating such threats is a reflection of the lessons learned from the Persian Gulf conflict and the relatively easy availability of anti-aircraft missiles, especially shoulder-fired infrared missiles, to Third World countries.

Recent interviews conducted by "Washington Report" with Lt Col Jerome D. Hawkins, AQPE deputy division chief, and a team of program element managers reveal that the Air Force is accelerating its efforts to enable quick detection and countering of advanced threat missile systems as well as addressing the older systems being aggressively peddled to the Third World.

Results of the Air Force EC office interview as well as interviews with equivalent Army and Navy organizations confirm that all agree with the danger posed by the threat. Also evident is a growing sense of cooperation and willingness by the services to join in programs to defeat the growing anti-aircraft missile menace.

The Air Force EC specialists indicated that a lack of funding cannot be offered as an excuse for not developing systems to counter the threat. Accordingly, they have a number of programs underway to attack all elements of threat missile systems.

First, the USAF has launched several programs to develop missile approach warning (MAW) systems for tactical fixed-wing aircraft. The service is also monitoring Army- and Navy-sponsored programs. However, while constrained by the inability of "users" to agree on requirements that will lead to the acquisition of a standard MAW operational system, the Air Force is actively soliciting inputs from industry. A recent example is a solicitation by the Aircraft Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, seeking information from defense contractors on their ability to provide a missile warning system for A-10, F-15, F-16 and F-111 aircraft. The Air Force intends to acquire a system capable of meeti ng requirements established in its System Operational Requirements Document (SORD) 316-88-1A (SECRET), according to a Commerce Business Daily notice dated August 20, 1993. The solicitation indicates the Air Force seeks information on offerer system capabilities (including software) that will allow it to meet requirements established in the SORD.

Concurrently, the Air Force is evaluating both active and passive MAW solutions, including those provided by Hercules and Loral passive AAR-47A systems and a Lockheed Sanders ALQ-156A active system. The Air Force also expects to have a Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis (COEA) document ready next month that will reflect an advanced missile warning system that will provide missile launch detection and approach warning as well as trigger automatic countermeasures response.

Air Force as well as Navy EW specialists are also closely monitoring an Army-sponsored Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures (ATIRCM) program underway at Lockheed Sanders, Nashua, NH. DOD, Army, Air Force and Navy EW program management personnel we have contacted give high praise for the ATIRCM system. Although the ATIRCM system is currently being designed primarily for installation in Army helicopters, Air Force and Navy personnel indicated that versions of the system may be appropriate for tactical fixed-wing aircraft as well.

The Air Force EW acquisition managers also reported they are closely monitoring UK contracts with US firms Lockheed Sanders, Loral and Northrop for protection of aircraft against infrared missiles ("Washington Report," May 1993, p. 17).

Although the Air Force is developing a number of sophisticated on-board approaches for defeating IR anti-aircraft missiles, the service is also managing efforts to improve flares. High on the list of such efforts is the Advanced Strategic and Tactical Expendables (ASTE) program. The effort is aimed at defeating IR missiles equipped with advanced counter-countermeasures. Program managers are currently completing evaluation of demonstration/validation flight test results. Five contractors received contracts for the effort: Loral, Tracor, Thiokol, Lockheed Sanders and Alloy Surfaces (again, see "Spinning the Wheel Again" for more information).

Draft RFPs are expected to be issued within three months for engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) models of the device. A competitive EMD contract is scheduled to be awarded in the third-quarter of this fiscal year.

While the Air Force is raising its sights to the future with the programs described above, it is slowly drawing the curtain on an important element of its EW repertoire -- jamming pods. Although there are plans to upgrade both its Westinghouse ALQ-131 Block II and Raytheon ALQ-184 pods, the Air Force says it will not procure any additional units. A final acquisition award for ALQ-184s was made to Raytheon last fiscal year. Deliveries of Westinghouse ALQ-131 Block II pods were completed earlier.

Although the interview revealed that the prospects for new procurement of USAF EW systems look bleak in general, industry opportunities exist for modernization, upgrades, concept development and possibly prototyping. Refreshingly, there appears to be a genuine conviction that the days of duplicative EW efforts by the military services are over. Primary examples include cooperative efforts in missile approach warning, infrared countermeasures and test equipment.

Lightweight Precision ESM System Developed for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Evidence that industry is searching for new applications, platforms and especially markets for its EW devices is provided by the recent selection of Litton Amecom by General Atomics to provide an ESM system for the latter's GNAT-750 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).

Litton Amecon has developed a lightweight, precision ESM/direction-finding system that provides better than 1 |degree~ azimuth and elevation accuracy and weighs about 21 lbs for installation on the UAV and possibly other aircraft.

The primary purpose of the device, dubbed the LR-100, is to detect and identify RF emitters and provide a precise directional cue to other on-board systems, such as a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) system or a synthetic aperture radar.

In addition to the cuing function, the ESM system is expected to improve mission effectiveness in reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition and provide self-protect warning.

Functions provided by the LR-100 are expected to significantly decrease acquisition times of sensors with narrow fields of view, like FLIRS, by cuing the sensors to the targets, thereby eliminating the need to search large volumes of space. Also, by precisely locating and identifying targets, the possibility of fratricide is expected to be greatly reduced.

A limitation of FLIRs is that the wide field-of-view mode provided by such devices often does not provide the resolution necessary to allow an operator to distinguish hard-to-detect targets. While the narrow field-of-view mode does provide good resolution, the area observed is so small it can take an extremely long time (up to several minutes) to scan the field of interest.

Other imaging sensors, such as synthetic aperture radars, have a similar limitation in that they provide images of only a narrow geographic area.
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Title Annotation:Washington Report; electronic combat systems development office prioritizes acquisition of systems for countering missile systems
Author:Green, Gerald
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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