Israeli DIRCM laser to protect German A400M transport planes

Set to receive the first MUSIC systems by 2015, the German Atlas would be the first A400M to fly with a DIRCM system

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Airbus Military A400M demonstrates the release of decoy flares. Photo: Airbus Military
Airbus Military A400M demonstrates the release of decoy flares. Photo: Airbus Military
Airbus Military A400M demonstrates the release of decoy flares. The A400 currently integrates a defensive aids systems comprising RF and IR warning systems and Chaff/Flare dispensers. The J-MUSIC will represent the first DIRCM to be integrated into the European transport plane, providing more effective countermeasure against advanced air defense threats. Photo: Airbus Military

Diehl announced it plans to combine Elbit System´s J-MUSIC (Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure) system into a multi-turret Directed Infrared Counter Measure (DIRCM) system to be integrated into the german A400M Atlas military transport, ensuring complete 360° protection of the aircraft. Diehl and Elbit Systems have signed an exclusive cooperation agreement at the recent ILA Berlin airshow, to equip the Bundeswehr´s Airbus A400M transport aircraft with its self-protection system. J-MUSIC was designed to protect large military and commercial aircraft against man portable infra-red guided anti-aircraft missiles (MANPADS) employed by terrorists worldwide.

The J-MUSIC fiber-laser DIRCM will be part of the self protection suite protecting the german A400M Atlas transport aircraft. Photo: ELbit Systems
The J-MUSIC fiber-laser DIRCM will be part of the self protection suite protecting the german A400M Atlas transport aircraft. Each A400M will be fitted with two MUSIC laser-countermeasure units, providing  360 degrees protection for  the aircraft. Photo: Elbit Systems

In recent months Elbit Systems completed extensive testing of the fiber-laser based J-MUSIC and its the podded version C-MUSIC systems, and has delivered systems to equip several aircraft for customers this year. Several variants of the MUSIC system and modules were already selected to protect the Italian Air Force Lockheed Martin C130J and Alenia Aermacchi C27J military transports and AgustaWestland AW101 CSAR helicopters, as well as the Brazilian Embraer C390 military transports. The cooperation with Diehl further extends Elbit Systems’ access to military and commercial aircraft fleets. In 2013 Boeing and Elbit Systems have also signed a Memorandum of Understanding offering Elbit Systems’ Directed Infrared Counter Measure (DIRCM) systems for a range of Boeing military fixed-wing and vertical-lift aircraft.

By adapting the Israeli solution Diehl will be able to meet the Bundeswehr schedule with operationally-ready DIRCM solution for the A400M in 2015

[ismember]Diehl has also acquired extensive experience with aircraft self protection and DIRCM, as a member of the Franco-German industry group assigned to provide the Closed-Loop laser based DIRCM (DIRCM-CL) as a self protection capability for NATO’s transport and special mission aircraft, and particularly for the Atlas. The group was formed in 2009 and, according to the original schedule, was supposed to deliver the first DIRCMs this year. Until now Diehl planned to use its own Flash DIRCM, designed to jam and disable advanced seeker heads, ‘burning’ their electronics by high-power laser. This concept has been proven through the FLASH developmental program that has been underway since 2005, but the. However, FLASH has yet to mature into an operational ready system, and would not be ready to provide a DIRCM-based solution for the German A400M Atlas in time for its initial operational capability planned for next year.

The FLASH laser DIRCM was designed to protect the Atlas from current MANPADS threats and offer growth potential, to protect the aircraft from non MANPADS threats at a later stage. [/ismember]By adapting the Israeli solution Diehl will be able to meet the Bundeswehr schedule with operationally-ready DIRCM solution for the A400M in 2015. Germany is expected to operate 53 A400Ms positioned to become the largest operator of the Atlas; the first aircraft is currently in assembly and will be delivered to the customer in November 2014.
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[/nonmember][ismember]As a modern military transport the A400M has been specifically designed for low detectability, low vulnerability and high survivability. The Defensive Aids Suite that has been integrated as part of the aircraft design incorporate the ALR-400 radar warner from Indra and EADS (Airbus) and MIRAS (multicolour infraRed alerting sensor) missile launch and approach warner developed by EADS and Thales. On board countermeasures include chaff and flare decoys.

The aircraft also benefits from reduced infra-red signature delivered by the four EPI TP 400 turboprops. Other survivability enhancing features include damage tolerant controls, triple redundant fly-by-wire flight controls and four independent control computers. Protection against small arms fire and shrapnels include cockpit armoring, bullet-resistant windscreens, the use of inerting gas in the fuel tanks and segregated routing of hydraulics and wiring.[/ismember]

The first A400M Atlas has been delivered to the French Air Force in 2013, followed by the delivery to the Turkish Air Force earlier this year. The RAF is British Royal Air Force will be next, followed by the German Air Force, both receiving their first Atlas this year.

The current intention of the participating nations is to procure a total of 170 aircraft with delivery schedule extending to 2024. Of the 170 aircraft Germany 53, France 50, Spain 27, Turkey 10, UK 22, Belgium 7 and one for Luxembourg. Malaysia has also ordered four aircraft, with deliveries commencing in 2015. Airbus is expecting a second export order to be signed in 2014.

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