Alliant Techsystems will start developing a new sensor that can detect gunshots fired at US Navy helicopters under a $2 million deal.

ATK will add the hostile fire indicator to its AAR-47 missile warning system. The combined system would alert helicopter crews to attacks from both missiles and small arms fire.

A navy contract award on 20 August implements additional testing and data collection events. The deal also pays for an operational flight programme solution for the problem of laser warning false alarms.

Since a rash of helicopter shootdowns in Iraq in November 2003, the US military has been focused on upgrading its helicopters' ability to detect and jam shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles. More recently, military officials have sought to deploy new sensors that can also detect and identify the source of gunfire, which are normally inaudible inside a helicopter.

The hostile fire indicator capability is also a key requirement for the joint and allied threat awareness system (JATAS), with which the USN is planning to replace the AAR-47. The JATAS contract remains in competition. A request for proposals was issued in the first quarter of this year.

Source: Flight International