The UK Ministry of Defence has issued a requirement for an advanced defensive aids system for its fast jets, following experience gained during recent operations in the Balkans and the Gulf.

The procurement is being expedited to ensure the earliest in-service date, with the MoD stating that with "the urgency of the requirement, it is anticipated that the solution is likely to be based on [commercial off-the-shelf equipment]". Expressions of interest are due by 29 September.

Known as Integrated Multi-Platform Countermeasures (IMPC), the system will be applied to "fast jets", understood to be initially the Panavia Tornado GR1/4 and BAE Systems Harrier GR7.

The MoD says the system is likely to include "on- and off-board" electronic countermeasures and a missile approach warner.

The ministry says the system could include towed decoys, a capability extensively used by the US forces in the Balkans and over Iraq, but not available to the RAF's strike-dedicated fast jets.

The IMPC requirement is based on operational experience in the Gulf and the Balkans where operations have tended to be medium level rather than the low level environment in which the RAF's electronic warfare (EW) systems were designed to operate.

The MoD has requested a modular approach to IMPC's design and construction, "to allow mission specific fit and to maximise utilisation of equipment across the fast jet fleet". This is likely to lead to a podded solution, says an industry source.

BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Thomson Racal Defence are expected to respond. Racal says it is interested and will combine with capabilities elsewhere within Thomson-CSF to meet the requirement. BAE, which also expects to bid, is in the process of acquiring Lockheed Martin's Sanders business unit which will add new capabilities to the company's EW portfolio.

Source: Flight International