With fears of missile launches in the Korean Peninsula at an all time high, two defence primes are integrating their advanced technology to create an end-to-end missile warning and protection system.
Thales and Italy's aerospace, defence and security leader Leonardo are being contracted by the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) to demonstrate their world-leading infra-red (IR) protection system in trials in early 2018.
The companies are currently engaged in development activities to bring together two of their most advanced products, Thales’ Elix-IR Threat Warning System and Leonardo’s Miysis Directed Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system. Together, the systems will offer an end-to-end protection system for military and civil platforms, ranging from small helicopters to large troop transports/VIP platforms, against threatening missiles.
Leonardo and Thales said they are currently integrating the two systems so that hand-over between threat-warning and threat-defeat is optimised to defeat the threat as quickly as possible.
In practice, the combined system will mean that when a threatening missile is fired at a platform equipped with the combined solution, the Elix-IR system will detect, track, classify and declare the missile as a threat to platform and rapidly pass an alert over to the Miysis system. Miysis will then track the incoming threat and accurately direct a high-energy laser onto the missile’s seeker, confusing its guidance system and quickly steering the missile away from the platform. Elix-IR will continue to track the threatening missile throughout its engagement by Miysis.
Leonardo’s Miysis DIRCM capabilities were demonstrated during the NATO Trial EMBOW XIV in 2014 where it recorded a 100 per cent success record against generation 1, 2 and 3 man-portable air defence systems using NATO jam codes.
Flight trials at Pendine Ranges and previous static trials successfully demonstrated the performance of Thales’s Elix-IR in complex warfighting environments, detecting all threats presented during the trials, including some that had challenged previous hostile fire indicator systems.
Under the contracts, funding from the UK MoD will support lab-based and field trials of the integrated system in early 2018 and help evaluate its use for current and future UK air platform protection.
Designed and manufactured in the UK, Elix-IR and Miysis are also readily exportable. Thales and Leonardo will continue to market the systems individually but will also work together to offer the integrated protection capability around the world.