Stewart Penney/LONDON

The UK Defence Procurement Agency (DPA)has invited seven firms to submit proposals for a fast jet directed infra-red countermeasures (DIRCM) technology demonstration programme (TDP).

BAE Systems, Litton, Northrop Grumman, Sagem, Sanders, Shorts Missile Systems and Thomson-CSF Optrosyshave been issued with the requirements.

Formal invitations to tender should be issued at the end of next month, with responses due at the year-end. The work is scheduled to finish in June 2003. The contractor is expected to provide around 50% of the programme cost.

DIRCM systems are designed to protect aircraft from infrared (IR) guided missiles, but in-service systems are too big for fast jets while weight and power requirements are also issues. The DPA requires bidders to develop an acquisition, pointing and tracking (APT) system "with dimensions in the region of 100-150mm (4-6in) diameter" and a total volume of 2 litres (122in³). The TDP will include a missile warning system, a transmitter containing the APT and a laser aperture and IR laser source.

The TDP will be housed in a pod to cut aircraft integration risks. DPA plans ground trials but the winning system will require certification for potential flight trials.

• The DPA has signed study contracts for the Watchkeeper unmanned air vehicle - the combination of Sender and Spectator projects that started as part of the UK/US Tracer future combat vehicle requirement. BAE, Lock-heed Martin UK Government Systems, Northrop Grumman and Thomson Racal Defence have each received £3.5 million ($4.9 million) for initial competitive assessment phases.

Watchkeeper will provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities. The studies will look at platform capabilities; the balance of investments between air and land systems; and consider what role could be played by the British Army's single UAV system - the GEC-Marconi Phoenix.

Source: Flight International