|Countermeasures Against Anti-Aircraft EO/IR Imaging Seeker Threats
|Systems Concepts and Integration|
Digital Simulations, DIRCM, Dual band imaging, EO/IR CM/CCM, EO/IR imaging Missiles, Field trials, HWIL, Imaging Seeker Surrogate, Laser, Missile, Self protection, Versatile Tracking System
Infrared and electro-optically (EO/IR) guided missiles continue to increase in complexity, capability and diversity, and pose an increasing threat to aircrafts. Developments in infrared and electro-optical technology have led to EO/IR imaging seekers with far improved capabilities to reject conventional countermeasures. These EO/IR imaging missiles are already used in the most advanced armed forces (US, UK, EU, Israel, etc.). The first generation of these EO/IR imaging missiles (line scanning - single/dual band imaging) entered into service in the late 90s in air to air configurations and the second generation (focal plane array - single band) entered into service in the mid 2000s. This second generation is believed to be used both for air to air and surface to air application (including MAN Portable Air Defense Systems or MANPADS). With the development of asymmetric warfare over the last decades where the use of these MANPADS becomes highly unpredictable and unconventional, in terms of location, operation and selection of targets, there is a real risk that in one or two decades from now, terrorists and insurgents may have access to some of these EO/IR imaging missiles which will drastically increase their threatening level. Therefore, in anticipation to this, new countermeasure concepts and methods have to be developed and evaluated.
The new proposed activity will be based on the achievements of SCI-139, SCI-192 and SCI-239. SCI-139 has made the tools and techniques available to evaluate and test countermeasure concepts: Fly-In for digital simulations and the Imaging Seeker Surrogate (ISS) for seeker hardware simulation. Then SCI-192 has tested the implementation of an IRCM strategy at a very preliminary stage through Fly-In missile engagement simulation studies and by participating in NATO field trials to verify IRCM effectiveness. The SCI-192 activity led to the general conclusion that there is a real technological rupture between the current proliferating non imaging missiles and the arising imaging missiles in terms of IRCCM capabilities (capabilities to resist to IR countermeasures). To face this technological rupture, far more sophisticated IRCM techniques need to be anticipated. During the last SCI-239 activity, through the extensive use of the Fly-In digital simulation 2 or 3 promising IRCM techniques were identified for each type of aircraft (Fast Jet, Transport and Helo). By this way it was demonstrated that the most effective techniques were obtained by the combined use of flares and DIRCM. In addition, a second family of tracking algorithm was implemented in real time in the ISS through a more flexible and powerful programming tool called the Versatile Tracking System (VTS).
The next envisaged activity will be to turn the IRCM concepts into applicable IRCM techniques tested in the fields and to extend the activity to the third generation of imaging seekers using dual color images in the EO/IR domain.
This work will enable the NATO community involved in protecting aircraft against anti-aircraft missiles to understand where the best options for IRCM against imaging seekers will be and thus allowing them to prepare for the future.
The member nations all have programs to study the protection of the various platforms mentioned above. Co-operation will be very beneficial to all parties; past experience has already shown that collaboration in this area is both productive and cost-effective.
In the context previously described, it is envisaged:
- to go one step further in the identification of IRCM techniques against the second generation of imaging seekers by :
- checking the technological feasibility of the identified IRCM techniques and the practical implementation of these techniques on aircrafts,
- when relevant refining the IRCM techniques and/or identifying new techniques,
- demonstrating the effectiveness of these IRCM techniques in the lab in front of the ISS (using dedicated HWIL facilities available among the group members),
- through the fruitful cooperation with the NATO AGIII/SG2, taking the opportunity to demonstrate at least partially the effectiveness of these techniques in the fields on NATO aircrafts making best use of their self protection suite capabilities (in particular IRCM techniques combining flares and DIRCM),
- implementing new tracking algorithm families to confirm the effectiveness and/or to reinforce the robustness of the identified IRCM techniques,
- to extend the range of the covered threats to the third generation of imaging seekers using dual color images in the EO/IR domain by :
- acquiring during field trials a suitable database of dual band sequences of images,
- assessing through the use of digital simulations promising dual band image association able to reject countermeasures
- giving preliminary recommendations on the extra CM capabilities needed to cover this third generation of imaging seekers,
- to support as far as possible through the use of visible imaging sensors the AGIII/SG2 effort to counter missile threats using CCM in the visible domain.
• Assessment of the potential CCM capabilities of the arising EO/IR imaging missile threat (in particular for the 3rd gen)
• Implementation of new tracking algorithms in the FLY-IN simulation;
• Digital simulations for identifying promising EO/IR CM concepts applicable to the various types of NATO aircrafts using Fly-In and/or any other suitable tool (Iidat, etc.)
• Demonstration of the effectiveness of these EO/IR CM concepts against the Imaging Seeker Surrogate (ISS) in laboratory
• As far as possible and based on the opportunities offered by NATO AGIII/SG2 field test demonstration of real IRCM techniques