The Israeli air force has launched a programme to enhance the self-protection capabilities of its combat helicopters, with Rafael's Jam Air electro-optical countermeasures system now being installed on its Bell AH-1s.
Likely to be installed across Israel's wider rotary aircraft fleet, the new design will replace its current ALQ-144 omni-directional active infrared countermeasures equipment, which the air force says is not sufficient to protect against current surface-to-air missile threats.
Housed in a dual-axis gimballed turret and based on arc lamp technology, the Jam Air system produces a wide beam that jams the seeker of an incoming missile by disengaging its lock on a heat source.
Rafael says the self-protection system - pictured installed above the aircraft's engine exhaust - can be linked to missile warners, laser and radar warning receivers and flare dispensers and can perform at least 1,000 jamming cycles between service intervals.
Rafael says the 30kg (66lb) turret can be installed on any section of a helicopter, and that "the open architecture enables each customer to use its own operational logic." The company has revealed that the system is already installed on VIP helicopters flying in Europe and says two foreign customers are already in negotiations to acquire the system.