The Boeing Company and Elbit Systems have entered a cooperation agreement to jointly develop self-defense solutions for Boeing military aircraft in international markets. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) currently addresses international markets. Under the MoU Boeing will integrate Elbit Systems’ Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) with fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft offered by Boeing internationally.
“Based on our long history of working with Boeing, we anticipate that this joint effort will provide the optimal solution for protecting our customers and creating synergistic value for both companies in this strategic and fast-growing market.” Joseph Ackerman, Elbit Systems President and CEO commented.
Boeing is currently offering all its Military Aircraft for export. These include the C-17A Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft, as well as the special missions variants of the aircraft built by Boeing Commercial Aircraft, such as the 737 and 767, configured for Airborne Early Warning, Maritime Surveillance and aerial refuelling. The aircraft provided for the US Air Force and Navy are being integrated with DIRCMs selected separately by the services. To date, systems integrated with the Air Forces’ C-17 and AH-64 Apache were delivered by Northrop Grumman. The US Army is also looking for new DIRCMs to equip the Army and Special Operations Command Boeing’s CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopter, as well as Osprey V-22 Tilt-Rotor aircraft are currently under selection, as part of the Army Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) program. The export of these US based technologies is limited by US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). It can be expected that the integration of the Israeli system will provide Boeing customers an access to state of the art defensive technology that is not limited by US export regulations. “Boeing is partnering with pioneering firms worldwide to bring advanced technology to our customers,” said Network & Space Systems President Roger Krone. “Our relationship with Elbit is an example of how we are enhancing our portfolio with innovative capabilities for a variety of solutions.”
All these Boeing Military aircraft and helicopters are currently marketed or have been delivered to international customers, some have yet to be equipped with DIRCMs. Boeing’s Network & Space Systems and Boeing Military Aircraft organizations are working together to integrate the systems onto new and existing aircraft, as well as to provide signature analysis and end-to-end services and support.
“We see a rapidly growing interest in DIRCM in all fronts – civil, VVIP, and military, combat jets and helicopters” Said Adi Dar, General Manager, El-Op and Elbit Systems Vice President. “For our MUSIC being the newest, yet most mature DIRCM system in the market, flexible, software-driven control system, utilizing advanced, low-power fiber-optic laser emitter, well adapted to meet evolving threats, and conforming to different platforms with minimum changes -from small transport planes to wide-body passenger jets. Another advantage Elbit System brings to market is the civil aviation certification of the system – the world’s first.”
The proliferation of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, particularly with terrorist groups operation in Asia, Africa and Latin America has increased the demand for DIRCM, protection helicopters, medium and large transport planes, as well as VIP aircraft and heads of state transportation aircraft (VVIP). Elbit Systems has developed several DIRCM variants, under the MUSIC and C-MUSIC brands. The technology developed Elbit Systems’ wholly owned subsidiary Elbit Systems Electro-optics ELOP Ltd., offers lightweight, compact systems that utilizes a proprietary fiber-laser emitter and electro-optical threat warning systems effectively protecting aircraft from common battlefield threats. In the past year Elbit Systems has made great inroads with its newest Directed Infra-Red CounterMeasure (DIRCM) known as MUSIC, the latest milestone has been the full system system testing with C-MUSIC mounted on a Boeing 707 flying testbed. Derivatives of the MUSIC were selected by the Italian Air Force to protect C-27, C-130J and A101 helicopters; the later are also operating in India. In the following year the system was also selected to become the integral DIRCM, operating as part of the Brazilian Air force KC-390 medium takner-transport plane built by Embraer.
Elbit Systems has developed a unique podded configuration of the MUSIC system, selected for the Israeli Skyshield program, providing DIRCM protection to Israel’s commercial airliners flying to destinations considered to be of ‘high threat’. The key for the feasibility of such program is the podded configuration of C-MUSIC, enabling the integration of the DIRCM system on aircraft configured for the system using a simple, low-drag A-Kit adaptor. When the aircraft is scheduled to fly into a destination defined as ‘high threat’, a C-MUSIC pod is installed, requiring only power and control links pre-configured during the initial installation. The same concept can also apply in protecting a fleet of military aircraft, that operate routinely over safe areas but is occasionally required to fly to high threat destinations.
Mission specific configuration, enabling an air force or operator to maintain only few pods rotated between the aircraft that actually face the higher threat level. Following an extensive testing program conducted in recent months the system is considered operational and ready to deploy passenger planes fitted with suitable kits.