Pentagon urgently seeks missile protection for military transports

Friday, January 17, 2003

The United States wants to quickly install advanced missile warning and defense systems on military transports flying in dangerous spots throughout the Middle East and Africa.

In May, suspected Al Qaida insurgents fired a Soviet-origin SA-7 surface-to-air missile toward an unidentified U.S. military jet in Saudi Arabia. The missile missed the U.S. plane, which was taking off from the Prince Sultan Air Base, Middle East Newsline reported.

Officials said the Bush administration has ordered accelerated procurement of missile warning and defense systems for military transports. They said the systems are meant to defend against Soviet-origin infrared missiles used by Al Qaida and other insurgency groups.

The Defense Department has awarded a $7.2 million contract to Northrop Grumman Systems to ensure accelerated deployment of a countermeasure systems for the C-17 air transport. The contract calls for a project to develop an interim infrared countermeasure system for U.S. Special Operations transport aircraft until more advanced equipment is ready.

Officials said the project was prompted by new requirements by the Air Mobility Command for Infrared Countermeasures capability. The command called for the design, development, testing and delivery of infrared countermeasure capability for the C-17 as rapidly as possible.

The Northrop Grumman system is said to use an infrared beam to automatically divert a heat-seeking missile. A Pentagon statement said the interim project calls for a single transmitter configuration of an infrared countermeasure system for up to 12 C-17s. The systems would consist of two video processors, laser transmitters, six ultraviolet missile warning subsystems sensors.

Officials said the project also calls for the training of aircrews and maintainers in the interim countermeasure system. They said the contract is expected to be completed by March 2004.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover