Talks are under way between France and Germany on the potential launch of a production effort for a directed infrared countermeasures system to form part of the Airbus Military A400M tactical transport's electronic warfare self-protection suite. Final approvals will be required next year for deployment with the aircraft in 2012.
The system is based on the Flash DIRCM demonstrator developed by Diehl BGT Defence, EADS Defence Electronics and Thales under a programme funded by the French and German governments and flight tested on a German air force Transall C160 in 2004-5.
"There are major discussions between Germany and France to launch full-scale development of the system," says Michel Papuchon, Thales Land and Joint Systems' technical director, optronics. "We hope for a decision to start development in 2008." Additional nations could join the production phase, he says, although such participation "should not elongate the programme too much".
The production system would incorporate two lasers: the first to combine tracking and jamming roles and the second with a higher power beam to damage the receiver array detector within a missile seeker. The design could also be adapted by other widebodied aircraft, says Papuchon, with Thales also having conducted internal studies and held discussions with EADS on smaller derivatives for use with other aircraft types. EADS declines to comment.