November 5, 2012

Army helicopters to get UV missile warning systems

Plans are afoot to equip helicopters of the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) with ultra-violet (UV)-based missile approach warning systems.
These systems, which have certain advantages over similar radar or infra-red-based detectors, are meant to warn pilots of an incoming missile to enable them to take counter-measures.
Defence public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is set to take up the project for developing the UV-based systems. “We are at the stage of contract negotiations with the Army,” BEL Director HN Ramakrisha told The Tribune here today.
“Deliveries will be done in 12 to 18 months after the contract is finalised,” he added. The estimated value of the contract is over Rs 350 crore.
UV-based systems provide early warning by detecting the UV energy produced by an incoming missile’s smoke plume and computing its distance and direction. These are stated to be better than IR systems at low attitudes and in cluttered environments, besides having a much lower probability of false alarms. These are also simpler than radar or IR systems and have low life cycle costs.
The Army plans to initially equip its fleet of Chetaks, which are meant for liaison, search- and-rescue and aerial recce, with UV systems though these can also be retrofitted on the Cheetahs and Dhruvs at a later stage.
These systems are primarily meant for warning against shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles. So far only the US, Israel, Germany and Sweden have such systems.
Developing missile warning systems for the Army also assumes significance in the backdrop of the government’s recent decision to give the Army control of all attack helicopters. The Mi25/35 helicopter gunships and some squadrons of Chetak helicopters outfitted with anti-tank missiles, though meant to support ground operations, are operated by the Air Force. Future acquisitions of attack helicopters will also be the Army’s domain.  

The Tribune 

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