Israel's Rafael has disclosed some of the efforts it is making to develop an active protection system for helicopters, with recent ground tests having proved that its solution can defeat a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) threat.
Dubbed "Flicker", the system works in a similar way to the company's Trophy equipment, which was developed to defend tanks and armoured personnel carriers from rockets and shells. Now operational on Israel's Merkava 4 main battle tanks, Trophy creates a hemispheric protected zone around the vehicle in which incoming threats are intercepted and defeated using a classified interceptor that deflects an incoming round so that it does not hit its intended target.
Israeli air force helicopters use electronic warfare systems to guard against missile attack, but there is a need to also protect them from weapons such as RPGs. These have downed many helicopters in conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
© Israeli air force
The Israeli air force wants an active means of protecting vulnerable helicopters from the RPG threat
Unlike the Trophy system, Flicker is designed to launch an interceptor rocket to defeat the incoming threat, which will be detected using aircraft sensors.
In a recent test the interceptor hit the warhead of an RPG and exploded it. Work is ongoing to downsize the system's building blocks and pack them in a way that will be applicable for installation on a helicopter.