EW 2011: UK upgrades its helicopter protection
The UK Ministry of Defence has delivered the first software update to the Integrated Defensive Aids System (DAS) for the RAF’s fleet of Chinook transport helicopters, in what has been described as a major survivability upgrade.
As part of Project Baker, Selex Galileo has been working contracts worth more than £10 million under an urgent operational requirement (UOR) to provide the DAS system for the Chinooks and the concept has now been pushed out to RAF Puma helicopters as they are upgraded to Mk2 standard.
Speaking at the Electonic Warfare 2011 conference in Berlin on 27 May, Steve George from the DAS Upgrade Chinook Integrated Project Team said the software upgrade was delivered in March and the system would serve as the foundation of future UK rotary wing DAS programmes.
Key to the system is a central DAS controller that acts as an interface with the aircraft’s protection hardware, providing a ready upgrade path and making the system hardware agnostic, while a Meggitt TFT display gives the crew one system to monitor.
‘The key is use of a separate DAS controller, as opposed to embedding the integration function in a DAS component. This delivers technical advantages and gives more freedom in handling system interface – the customer can build and update a DAS solution without having to update a sensor, effector etc,’ George said.
He said due to the piecemeal nature of rotary DAS evolution, with new systems installed under various UORs, aircrews were required to monitor up to six displays, which was an unnecessary distracting.
Under Project Baker, an industry team led by AgustaWestland, with Selex as systems integrator and Boeing as the platform design authority, worked with the MoD, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the RAF Air Warfare Centre in developing the system.
George said Chinooks equipped with the new configuration had already deployed to Afghanistan where it was performing well.
‘It has the best possible performance of a new sensor system. It is on record that the Chinook platform is the best integration of any warning system that has been achieved in the UK. We have the highest level of performance – I can’t go into details, they are classified, but we have done it.’
The integration of a central DAS controller is only one component of the upgrade of protection systems across the MoD’s rotary fleet.
Selex is also supplying its Eclipse pointer-tracker and Type 160 infrared counter measure (IRCM) laser as part of the Common Defensive Aid Suite (CDAS) technology demonstrator programme (TDP), which aims to define the architecture for advanced defensive aid systems.
As part of the three year programme, the company expects to go ahead with flight trails later this year. A variant of the system has also been offered to the US Army alongside partner Northrop Grumman for the CIRCM programme and Selex is also hopeful of releasing an export version.
More from Defence Helicopter
Uruguay's African peacekeepers to receive new support helicopter
The donation of a utility helicopter by the UA will increase the Uruguayan peacekeeping deployment’s air support capabilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Turkiye's Gokbey helicopter marks first indigenous engined flight
On April 22, 2023, Turkish Aerospace’s T-625 GOKBEY general-purpose helicopter conducted a test flight with an indigenous TEI-TS1400 engine for the first time.
Canada to upgrade AW101 rescue helicopters in-country under Leonardo-IMP deal
Canada's IMP Aerospace will carry out upgrades on 13 of the 16 AW101 aircraft covered by the CMLU programme under a sub-contract from Leonardo Helicopters UK.
US Coast Guard to upgrade radars for MH-60 and MH-65 helicopter fleets
New Honeywell IntuVue RDR-7000 weather radars will be installed on USCG MH-60 and MH-65 helicopters.