DSEI 2019: UK MoD orders Leonardo and Thales protection system for RAF Shadow ISTAR fleet
The UK Ministry of Defence has contracted Leonardo and Thales, under a single source procurement, to deliver an integrated UK Defensive Aids System (DAS). The procurement will equip the RAF’s fleet of eight Shadow R1 intelligence-gathering aircraft, providing an advanced DAS which will protect the aircraft against latest-generation of Infra-Red (heat seeking) missiles.
The integrated DAS brings together world-class capabilities in threat warning, self-protection co-ordination, countermeasures dispensing and in DIRCM (Picture source: Leonardo)
Designed, developed and manufactured in the UK, the system provides a sovereign capability which will be able to evolve in anticipation of changing threats to air platforms.
The contract will be delivered by a combined MOD/Leonardo/Thales team under a Leonardo prime systems integration contract, with the equipment being integrated onto the platform by Raytheon UK. Initial Operating Capability is targeted for early 2021. The system consists of the following subsystems:
- Thales “Elix-IR” Threat Warner
- Leonardo DAS Controller
- Leonardo “Miysis” Directed Infra-Red Counter Measure (DIRCM)
- Thales “Vicon” Countermeasures Dispensing System
The single source selection by the MOD follows the recent SALT III international trials hosted by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration in Sweden. There, the integrated Miysis/Elix-IR system, using a jamming waveform developed by the UK MOD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, proved its ability to defeat Infra-Red missiles in live fire exercises.
How the system works:
The integrated DAS brings together world-class capabilities in threat warning, self-protection co-ordination, countermeasures dispensing and in DIRCM. At the heart of the system, the DAS Controller is able to assess multiple threats to the aircraft and prioritise the appropriate response using the Countermeasure Dispensing System (CMDS) and Miysis DIRCM. Elix-IR is constantly on the lookout for missile and gunfire threats, providing long range, rapid and accurately-located alerts when they occur. The dual-head fit of the Miysis DIRCM provides 360 degree protection and the ability to defeat multiple threats simultaneously by accurately directing a jamming laser onto the missile’s seeker, confusing its guidance system and steering the missile away from the aircraft. The integrated and optimised threat-warning/threat-defeat chain ensures that sequential incoming missiles are thwarted quickly and effectively.
The RAF’s fleet of Shadow aircraft, which are based on the King Air 350CER, are operated by 14 Squadron out of RAF Waddington. Because of the ISR role of the aircraft, it may be required to fly through hostile airspace, necessitating protection from enemy forces. A particularly deadly and prevalent threat are heat-seeking, Man-Portable Air-Defence Systems (MANPADS), which are widely employed around the world. The Shadow’s new defensive aids suite will effectively counter this threat, being able to rapidly defeat incoming missiles.