Work to install Elbit Systems C-Music directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) equipment on several Italian air force types is to begin soon, under the terms of a $15 million contract awarded to industry partner Elettronica in 2011.

Dan Slasky, vice-president of airborne electro-optics and laser systems at Elbit's Elop division, says the Italian air force will first install Elettronica's ELT-572 self-protection system onto its Lockheed Martin C-130J and Alenia Aermacchi C-27 tactical transports and AgustaWestland AW101 helicopters.

 C-27J Italian air force - Alenia Aermacchi

Alenia Aermacchi

Italian air force types including the C-27J will receive ELT-572 DIRCM installations

The integration work is to begin following a series of "very successful" tests performed by the Italian air force, Slasky adds.

Based on the use of advanced fibre laser technology, the Music system counters man-portable air defence systems by emitting a laser beam towards an approaching missile's seeker head, causing it to veer off course. Elbit says the open-architecture technology can be installed on any type of aircraft, with existing customers including operators of military, commercial and VIP-transport aircraft.

"There is a growing demand for the systems for protecting cargo and aerial refuelling aircraft. Each month we respond to at least one request for proposals," Slasky says, citing a "real and imminent" threat posed by shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles. However, integrating such equipment with commercial airliners remains a "complex issue", he adds.

Slasky also reveals that negotiations are taking place about potentially installing Music-series countermeasures equipment on aircraft for four Boeing customers. The US airframer and Elbit earlier this year signed a collaboration agreement enabling the former to offer different versions of the DIRCM technology with its fixed-wing and helicopter product ranges.

Boeing's Military Aircraft and Network & Space Systems organisations are working together to integrate the systems on to new and existing aircraft, as well as providing signature analysis and end-to-end services and support for the equipment.

Source: Flight International