Rafael is proposing a retractable turret to reduce the drag of its Britening directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) when fitted to civil aircraft. The company intends to perform a flight demonstration in the first quarter of next year.

Britening is developed from Rafael's AeroGEM helicopter DIRCM, says company director DIRCM systems, Dr Patrick Bar-Avi. The company ground tested a system on an Arkia Boeing 757 in March this year (Flight International, 18-24 March).

Bar-Avi predicts Britening will penetrate the civil market through selection on VIP aircraft, although he adds that for airliners, systems should be mandated, "otherwise the airlines won't initiate programmes". He adds that the system, which comprises the turret with ultraviolet or infrared (IR) sensors in the fixture, "won't necessarily sit on the outside of the aircraft". The turret has an IR missile-tracker and lamp for generating the spurious heat source.

Some customers, he says, will require a rapid retrofit and will "not care about the drag", whereas others will, so Rafael has designed a retractable pod for rear fuselage installation. The DIRCM would be deployed for take-off and retractonce the aircraft is at a safe altitude. Placing the turret at the rear of the aircraft stops parts of the airframe blanking the turret's view of an incoming missile, says Bar-Avi.

A retractable system "will be more painful" to certificate, says Bar-Avi, as it is "another system", with failure modes to be calculated and proven.

Bar-Avi says the March test "gave confidence that the technology can do the job, and we hope in the first quarter of next year to conduct a flight demonstration". He adds that Rafael will continue to work with Israeli carrier Arkia and that the flight demonstration would be similar to the ground test and not involve a live missile firing.

Source: Flight International