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Raytheon Uses Norwegian Missile System Component In Airport Protection

By | May 22, 2006

      Raytheon Co. [RTN] developed a variant of its airport protection shield that uses a Norwegian fire distribution center, the company announced.

      The Raytheon Vigilant Eagle Airport Protection System variant uses the fire distribution center (FDC) of the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS).

      NASAMS fire control equipment provides a capable, fielded and mature air defense system that can now serve as the Vigilant Eagle command and control (C2) component, according to Raytheon.

      The component operates the airport protection system electromagnetic countermeasure to divert threatening missiles away from aircraft.

      Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the government, airlines and airport authorities have been seeking ways to protect airliners from terrorist attacks, especially by surface-to-air missiles.

      That could be accomplished by placing anti-missile systems on the planes, but airlines protest that such a move would be expensive, coming just as those companies are reeling financially from a loss of passengers after the 9/11 attacks, followed by a second blow in the form of soaring kerojet fuel prices.

      Another approach would be the Raytheon offering: a perimeter defense around each airport, guarding against terrorist missiles aimed at approaching or departing airliners or cargo planes. It would cost less than systems installed on all commercial airliners, although the perimeter defense would guard planes only while they were on or near airport property.

      Vigilant Eagle is a ground-based electromagnetic energy system designed to actively protect all aircraft flying in and out of airports from surface-to-air missiles, according to Raytheon.

      “This adds a field-proven command and control component to Vigilant Eagle, offering improved technical maturity to the system,” said Mike Booen, vice president of directed energy weapons at Raytheon Missile Systems. “We have selected an operating command and control system that is successfully used today in both military and urban environments.”

      The NASAMS FDC has been in military use since 1994 and recently was deployed to protect Washington, D.C., from an airborne attack.

      In this role, the FDC can track and identify all objects in the capital’s airspace, operate with existing civilian systems, discriminate friendly versus hostile objects and recommend appropriate action in event of an attack.

      The Army Surface Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (SLAMRAAM) system also under development by Raytheon builds upon proven NASAMS technology so that the SLAMRAAM system is capable of providing the next generation of command and control for Vigilant Eagle.

      SLAMRAAM’s FDC functionality is highly similar to that required by Vigilant Eagle’s C2 subsystem that must identify, discriminate and engage shoulder-fired missile threats, according to Raytheon.

      By leveraging existing technology of the NASAMS FDC, Raytheon will be able to adapt the Vigilant Eagle system to an urban environment while reducing the cost dramatically.

      All Vigilant Eagle subsystems have been demonstrated successfully as individual components, the company stated

      With incorporation of NASAMS FDC, Vigilant Eagle is now immediately available for demonstration in an urban environment.

      The FDC currently receives radar and tracking information from a grid of civilian and military radars. Addition of the Vigilant Eagle infrared missile detect and track subsystem would prove interoperability in an urban environment and low false alarm rate.

      Vigilant Eagle has been proven effective against the MANPADS threat in field testing. It is a ground-based system that protects all aircraft at an airport, with no additional weight, drag or cost added to airliners, Raytheon noted. Vigilant Eagle is a mature, cost-effective airport protection solution and is ready for a large-scale demonstration or military or commercial sale.

      Aside from cost issues, provision of protection for airliners was slowed by legal liability concerns.

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