JED - June 2011 - (Page 59)
AIRBORNE DISPENSERS AND IR EXPENDABLES
By Ollie Holt
nfrared (IR) countermeasures flares and decoys remain the primary means of protecting rotaryand fixed-wing aircraft against IR-guided threats. This is due to their effectiveness against most types of fielded IR-guided missiles, as well as their affordability. Flare technology and dispenser designs have evolved considerably over the past decade, and many of those advances are reflected in this month’s survey.
As missile technology has evolved, IR seekers have employed more sophisticated counter-countermeasures against flares. These counter-countermeasures may include spectral, temporal, spatial and kinematic techniques to distinguish between flares and the target aircraft. As a result, flare designs offer
In order to defeat these advanced seekers, either a cocktail of spectral and propelled flares is required or a spectrally tailored propelled flare is needed to degrade the missile seeker tracking capability. Most airborne IR decoys comply to standard form factors, such as 1 x 1 x 8 inches, 1 x 2 x 8 inches, etc. However, the flare dispensers, which are integrated onto a variety of helicopters, transports and fighter aircraft, come in a several shapes and sizes and feature a range of flare capacities.
The Journal of Electronic Defense | June 2011
The dispensers included in this month’s survey cover a variety types, including traditional “bucket” designs, such as the ALE-47, which use pyrotechnic impulse cartridges or “squibs” to eject the flares. Typically, these types of dispensers are programmable, meaning they can be pre-programmed to dispense flares in a particular pattern. Sometimes, two or even three different flare types are loaded into the dispensers in order to match flares with specific types of threats. A few of these dispensers also feature the ability to automatically identify which type of flare is loaded into each slot of the magazine. This helps with keeping track of flare inventory throughout a mission. Mechanical dispensers use a motor to drive a plunger that pushes pyrophoric IR decoy material out of the dispenser. These dispensers can be started and stopped either automatically via the EW suite or manually by the aircrew. Depending on the amount of pyrophoric decoy material they can carry, they can provide pre-emptive IR protection for extended periods.
Airborne Dispenser and IR Expendables Sampling
This survey includes two related components. The first section covers IR decoy dispensers. The second section lists the types of flares and IR decoys that are available for use with these dispensers. In the airborne market, the flare manufacturers and the dispenser manufacturers usually are not the same companies. However, most of the companies that make flare dispensers also manufacture flares and vice versa. Our survey includes nearly 30 dispenser products from 10 companies, as well as listing four flare magazines from two manufacturers. The flare portion of the survey covers 34 IR decoy and flare products from eight manufacturers. This is merely a sampling from these companies, and we encourage you to visit the company websites listed in the table in order to view the full range of available products. JED’s next survey, covering SIGINT and DF antennas, will appear in the August issue.
more sophistication in terms of the materials they use and their flight characteristics. For example, thrusted flares include a propellant component that enables the decoy to fly along with or even ahead of the platform for several seconds, which is long enough to confuse an incoming threat. Dual-spectral flares include two components that radiate at different temperatures. These are designed to defeat threats that reject single-point flares by looking for targets with two or more IR features, such as heat from the leading edge of a wing and the much hotter metal near the engine exhaust. The more advanced missile seekers will add both a spatial and spectral component to the tracking loop in order to separate targets from countermeasures.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - June 2011
JED - June 2011
The View From Here
From the President
The World’s SIGINT Aircraf
Upgrading Fighter Aircraft
Country Profi le: France’s EW Programs
Technology Survey: Airborne Dispensers and IR Expendables
2011 AOC Election Guide
AOC Membership Page
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - June 2011