BAE Systems is ready to begin tests of its prototype counter MANPADS (man portable air defence systems), on a Boeing 767 200 in August, the company announced at the show. Tests on commercial aircraft will be completed in early 2006. These will pave the way for BAE’s $55 million contract with the US
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide a viable defence for commercial aircraft against shoulder-launched missiles. The tests will involve laser-based DIRCM (directed infrared countermeasures) technology that uses an integrated three-stage defence: detecting; tracking; and then jamming a missile’s guidance system. Although similar systems are used on military aircraft, the commercial market has a number of additional requirements in order to minimise price, flight delays and false alarms. Mark Thum, BAE Systems vice-president of international development, describes MANPADs as a global threat. To date 38 nonmilitary aircraft have been attacked. Thum says: “We know how to protect military aircraft – what we are now involved in is developing a system that is acceptable to the commercial aerospace industry.

Source: Flight Daily News