MoD signs air research deal with Thales

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Thales UK have signed a new research contract for technology that will improve the resilience of future UK aircraft to anti-air threats.

The jointly funded contract, worth £24.5M, builds on years of research work conducted by Thales and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to develop an infra-red warning system to detect missiles, gun fire and other threats so that appropriate countermeasures can be deployed. The programme is being managed and delivered from the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Air Technology Delivery organisation.

The technology demonstrator, scheduled to be completed in 2015, will prove that the system can identify and declare threats in complex environments with a high level of accuracy. It will use up to six single colour infra-red sensors to provide full coverage of the volume around the aircraft and use Thales algorithms on a central processor.

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Testing at each stage of the development will use a bespoke evaluation and validation system. Dstl will conduct a series of ground and flight trials to assess the system’s performance in representative conditions.

The system’s sensors will also be capable of generating infra-red imagery from all around the aircraft to aid aircrew situational awareness and is designed to include data recording to support effective mission planning and post mission replay.

Alex Cresswell, head of Thales UK’s land defence business, says: “The award of such an important programme in a key technology is a clear recognition of the extensive work already carried out by Thales UK in this field. It demonstrates the MOD’s confidence in Thales’s ability to deliver such a capability and we look forward to deploying it successfully into service with the UK and its close allies.”

Dstl’s George Lane says: “This programme is yet another example of how the MOD is working closely with UK industry to develop equipment that will improve the survivability of aircraft and aircrew.”

Pete Douglass, from the Air Technology Delivery team in DE&S, says: “The MOD is constantly looking at ways to develop new technology that enhances the performance and safety of our Armed Forces and this research contract is a great example of this. We are looking forward to developing this important programme and reaping the benefits of the research.”

Source: Thales Group (Paris: HO.PA)
Date: Jul 15, 2012