BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman plan to compete for a new solicitation issued by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test anti-missile systems on airliners in passenger service.

Northrop received a solicitation from DHS on 9 July for Phase 3B of the ongoing counter-Manpads programme, says Jack Pledger, Northrop's director for directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM).

"We are responding to that [request for proposal] as we speak," Pledger says.

BAE's JetEye system, meanwhile, is also a candidate for the programme, BAE programme manager Steve Dumont says. The company has teamed with American Airlines to install JetEye on three to five airliners flying domestic routes for the next phase of the programme.

Northrop has been flying the Guardian anti-missile system on FedEx Boeing MD-10 freighters since January. The six aircraft in service to date have amassed 5,000 flight hours, and the company remains on goal to reach 12,000 flight hours by next March, Pledger says. Northrop still plans to install Guardian on three additional FedEx freighters, he added.

To date, the in-service experience on the freighters has raised few operational concerns, according to Pledger.

"Our system has a very little contribution to fuel burn and drag," he says. "We cannot accurately calculate the contribution it is so small."

Source: Flight International