How do you persuade airlines to equip their fleets with systems that can counter shoulder-launched missiles?
It seems to be an impossible mission, but there may be parallel markets and that assumption resulted in co-operation between Boeing and Elbit Systems.
According to the co-operation agreement, Boeing will offer Elbit’s directed infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) systems with all its military and civil aircraft.
The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding that supports the growth of both firms through the “joint pursuit of opportunities for self-defense solutions for Boeing military aircraft in international markets”.
The companies will offer Elbit’s DIRCM systems for a range of Boeing military fixed-wing and vertical-lift aircraft.
The Elbit DIRCM systems, produced by the company’s ELOP division, are lightweight, compact and designed to protect aircraft from common battlefield threats, mainly heat-seeking shoulder-launched missiles.
Boeing’s Network & Space Systems and Boeing Military Aircraft organisations are working together to integrate the systems into new and existing aircraft, as well as to provide signature analysis and end-to-end services and support.
The Elbit Systems Commercial Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure (C-MUSIC) system has recently performed a series of successful flight tests on board a Boeing 707.
The system, designated to protect large jet aircraft against shoulder-launched missiles, successfully performed all the necessary functions.
While airlines do not seem the best potential customers, other users are showing great interest.
The companies will offer a range of variants that will fit large aircraft, helicopters and business jets.
I think the biggest potential is in what is referred to generally as “mission aircraft” – air tankers, early warning and reconnaissance platforms and official VIP aircraft.
The Elbit DIRCM systems were developed initially to protect the aircraft of Israeli airlines. This programme is under way. In the meantime the number of shoulder-launched missiles in the hands of terrorists has risen dramatically.
With such missiles sold on the black market for as little as $5,000, the threat looks very real.