The US Navy has released a picture of a Boeing CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter testing an upgraded chaff and flare dispensing self-defence system.

The photograph was taken in December in the USA, but its release comes just two weeks after a US Marine Corps CH-46 was shot down north of Baghdad, Iraq on 7 February, killing all seven people on board

The US Navy says it will not comment on aircraft survivability equipment and is unable to confirm whether the upgrade has been fielded to Iraq. The photograph shows dispenser boxes mounted aft of the nosewheel that are not seen on recent images of CH-46s operating in Iraq. There is also what could be a dispenser mounted above the rear sponson. Missile warning sensors are visible on the nose below the cockpit door and the rear fuselage above the ramp.

H-46 chaff and flare W445
© US Navy

Mounted on the side of the aft rotor pylon, just above the engine exhaust, is what appears to be a “hot brick” infrared countermeasures system. This infrared jammer can be seen on CH-46s operating in Iraq, but is effective only against earlier generation heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles. More effective directed infrared countermeasures systems are operational on UK helicopters in Iraq, but not yet on US machines.