Stephen Trimble / Washington DC

After shootdown of CH-47 in Iraq, defence secretary comes under pressure to re-evaluate anti-missile systems

The first US aircraft shootdown due to an enemy missile in Iraq has sparked calls for a review of the adequacy of the US Department of Defense's electronic warfare stocks. The US Army is revisiting the schedule for deploying a next-generation anti-missile system on helicopters.

Two Democratic senators, Dick Durbin and Tom Harkin, sent a letter on 4 November to defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, saying that the Boeing CH-47 Chinook that crashed in the 2 November attack may have lacked cockpit seat armour, as well as the ALQ-156(V) missile warning system and M-130 flare dispenser, both BAE Systems products. Fifteen soldiers were killed and 20 were wounded in the attack.

Army officials have confirmed the downed Army National Guard CH-47 was equipped with the ALQ-156(V), but the two senior lawmakers pressed Rumsfeld to justify the adequacy of the pulse-Doppler missile approach warning system.

"We understand that the ALQ-156 is intended to protect against the expected threat from some surface-to-air missiles, but may not be as effective against other missiles," says the Durbin-Harkin letter.

The CH-47 is expected to be upgraded to the advanced threat infrared countermeasures/common missile warning system (ATIRCM/ CMWS), which includes an infrared jammer and improved flare and chaff dispensing systems.

The ATIRCM/CMWS programme managers were summoned to the Pentagon after the CH-47 crash.

A rocket-propelled grenade is believed to have downed a US Army UH-60 Black Hawk near Tikrit on 7 November, killing all six soldiers aboard.

Source: Flight International