JED - October 2017 - 45

The Journal of Electronic Defense | October 2017

decades, but many advanced IR missiles
The SWAP-C story is better now for IR
are now smart enough to tell the differsensors because of improvements in deence between a flare and the aircraft. The
tector cooling that have increased sensor
preferred countermeasure has become a
reliability, and Moore's Law-driven improvedirected infrared countermeasure (DIRCM)
ments in computers that have reduced the
in which the missile warning system cues
size of processors.
ALQ-212 - US Army
a pointer/tracker device to shine a laser at
From a long-term perspective, perhaps
the missile to alter its trajectory. (See "The
the biggest advantage to IR missile warning
Heat is On" JED columns from May and September of 2016 for
technology for helicopters is its potential for multifunction
more detail on DIRCM systems).
capability, including improved hostile fire indication (HFI) for
With the emergence of DIRCM systems, the early UV missile
rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and small arms, and better
warning systems, which were effectively single pixel systems,
aircrew situation awareness from the high-fidelity raw imagery
had to be upgraded to have more angular accuracy in order to
that comes off the IR sensors.
cue the pointer/tracker device in the direction of the incoming
missile. The infrared warning systems, which by their nature
CONVERGENCE ON IR
as multi-pixel systems are similar to a digital camera, had the
Since the advent of DIRCM technology, the Army, Navy
inherent accuracy required to cue a DIRCM system.
and Marines, who together have the most helicopters to proOnce the UV missile warning systems had been upgraded for
tect, have differed in their approaches to missile warning for
the required accuracy to cue a DIRCM system, it became more
DIRCM. For their big helicopters, both the Navy and Marines,
interesting to consider which technology was better suited for
who used UV-based missile warning systems when a flare was
helicopters: the UV technology or the IR technology.
the primary countermeasure, have now upgraded to IR technology. To date, the Army continues to use UV technology
for both its big and small helicopters, but it now has plans to
THE UV/IR TRADE-OFFS
upgrade to IR technology.
As mentioned above, there is a fundamental trade-off beBecause of the promising developments in IR over the last
tween range capability and false alarms that would seem to
several years, there appears to more agreement and converfavor the UV technology for helicopter applications, where the
gence on using IR as the common technology for helicopter
missile engagement ranges are short and a low false-alarm rate
missile warning, among all services.
is paramount.
Years ago, when I was a young engineer, I was fortunate to
And, when you consider size, weight, power and cost
45
be involved in an advanced development DIRCM program for
(SWAP-C), the UV sensor technology would also appear to get
helicopters, on which we delivered a missile warning system
the head nod. In particular, historically UV technology has
that was base-lined for UV technology. It had a processor and 4
been lower in both production cost and life cycle cost (because
UV sensors, that were used to cue a laser pointer/tracker. Even
of higher reliability) than IR sensor technology and, thus,
then, we knew that there would be an ongoing trade-off bemore likely to fit into the aircraft survivability equipment
tween UV and IR technology as technology advancements were
(ASE) budget for helicopters.
made and the IR SAM threat continued to evolve. Thus, hedging
As new requirements emerge, however, and technology
our bets a bit, we also delivered an IR sensor under the contract
marches on, IR missile warning has become a better value propothat could be operated by the same processor used to operate
sition for helicopters than it used to be. On the requirements
the UV sensors. We were familiar then with the better growth
side, the capabilities of more advanced threats make it necespotential of an IR system, but we also knew the trade-offs and
sary now to engage the IR missile sooner - ideally at launch.
that, for helicopter applications, the technology needed furThe IR sensor's range advantage over the UV sensor, means it
ther maturation. Now, more than 25 years later, it seems that
is better able to meet this requirement. In addition, the IR
IR missile warning for all helicopters has finally arrived. a
sensor's greater range can now be exploited without a falsealarm penalty, because the false alarm challenge has been
addressed with the development of mature multi-spectral
detection processing that does a better job of screening
out false signals and reduces the downstream processing
load. Some would also argue that the wider use of DIRCM
technology has also somewhat alleviated the false-alarm
problem. False alarms are much more problematic when
flares are being ejected because there is a finite quantity
of flares available, and an MTV flare can betray the helicopter's location in nighttime operations. In the DIRCM
application, a false positive from the missile
warning system merely results in a false cue
The Advanced Threat Warner is an example of an IR MWS. An early version of
to the DIRCM system and not a needless
ATW is seen here mounted as part of a DoN LAIRCM installation on a CH-53
depletion of flare countermeasures.
helicopter. (Northrop Grumman photo)



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - October 2017

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Maximizing EW Capabilities Within the Brigade Combat Team
Homing Senses: Anti-Ship Seekers Show New Diversity
The Heat is On
EW 101
Technology Survey: COMINT/DF Receivers
2018 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - October 2017 - intro
JED - October 2017 - cover1
JED - October 2017 - cover2
JED - October 2017 - 3
JED - October 2017 - 4
JED - October 2017 - 5
JED - October 2017 - The View From Here
JED - October 2017 - 7
JED - October 2017 - Conferences Calendar
JED - October 2017 - 9
JED - October 2017 - Courses Calendar
JED - October 2017 - 11
JED - October 2017 - From the President
JED - October 2017 - 13
JED - October 2017 - 14
JED - October 2017 - insert1
JED - October 2017 - insert2
JED - October 2017 - The Monitor
JED - October 2017 - 16
JED - October 2017 - 17
JED - October 2017 - 18
JED - October 2017 - 19
JED - October 2017 - 20
JED - October 2017 - 21
JED - October 2017 - Washington Report
JED - October 2017 - 23
JED - October 2017 - World Report
JED - October 2017 - 25
JED - October 2017 - Maximizing EW Capabilities Within the Brigade Combat Team
JED - October 2017 - 27
JED - October 2017 - 28
JED - October 2017 - 29
JED - October 2017 - 30
JED - October 2017 - 31
JED - October 2017 - 32
JED - October 2017 - 33
JED - October 2017 - 34
JED - October 2017 - 35
JED - October 2017 - Homing Senses: Anti-Ship Seekers Show New Diversity
JED - October 2017 - 37
JED - October 2017 - 38
JED - October 2017 - 39
JED - October 2017 - 40
JED - October 2017 - 41
JED - October 2017 - 42
JED - October 2017 - 43
JED - October 2017 - The Heat is On
JED - October 2017 - 45
JED - October 2017 - EW 101
JED - October 2017 - 47
JED - October 2017 - 48
JED - October 2017 - 49
JED - October 2017 - 50
JED - October 2017 - Technology Survey: COMINT/DF Receivers
JED - October 2017 - 52
JED - October 2017 - 53
JED - October 2017 - 54
JED - October 2017 - 55
JED - October 2017 - 56
JED - October 2017 - 57
JED - October 2017 - 58
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JED - October 2017 - 62
JED - October 2017 - 63
JED - October 2017 - 64
JED - October 2017 - 65
JED - October 2017 - 66
JED - October 2017 - 67
JED - October 2017 - 2018 EW/SIGINT Resource Guide
JED - October 2017 - 69
JED - October 2017 - 70
JED - October 2017 - 71
JED - October 2017 - 72
JED - October 2017 - 73
JED - October 2017 - 74
JED - October 2017 - 75
JED - October 2017 - 76
JED - October 2017 - 77
JED - October 2017 - 78
JED - October 2017 - 79
JED - October 2017 - 80
JED - October 2017 - 81
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JED - October 2017 - 83
JED - October 2017 - 84
JED - October 2017 - 85
JED - October 2017 - 86
JED - October 2017 - 87
JED - October 2017 - 88
JED - October 2017 - 89
JED - October 2017 - AOC News
JED - October 2017 - 91
JED - October 2017 - 92
JED - October 2017 - Index of Advertisers
JED - October 2017 - JED Quick Look
JED - October 2017 - cover3
JED - October 2017 - cover4
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