Planes practise self-defence

Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business has developed two security systems that protect aircraft on the tarmac and during takeoff and landing


Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) business has developed two security systems that protect aircraft on the tarmac and during takeoff and landing.



The US Air Force is currently testing the company’s prototype of an Aircraft Self Protection Security System (ASPSS). Using near object detection sensor (NODS) technology, the system provides electronic perimeter security for aircraft parked on the tarmac of an airfield or in a field location.



Raytheon has also developed the Vigilant Eagle Airport Protection System, which protects aeroplanes from man-portable air defence systems threats during takeoff and landing. The two systems are complementary: Vigilant Eagle provides security for active aircraft, and ASPSS protects parked aircraft.



The four-sensor version of ASPSS is a low-cost, portable system the US Air Force recently accepted after tests at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida under a $2.1 million contract.



“This aircraft self protection security system warns of potential close proximity threats to aircraft parked on the ground,” said Mark Russell, Raytheon IDS vice president of Engineering.



The NODS technology consists of three components: a near object detection sensor the size of a book, a communications module, and a personal digital assistant (PDA)-like alarm and display device. The near object detection sensor and communications module are mounted on a tripod and placed around the parked aircraft. The PDA-like display unit and another communication module, together known as an annunciator, are carried by security personnel. Each near object detection sensor covers approximately a 120-degree arc and is able to detect the presence of people and vehicles out to 100 metres and beyond.



Four sensors can provide overlapping 360-degree coverage of a single aircraft, and more sensors can be arranged to cover multiple aircraft parked together.



According to Russell, Raytheon IDS will be delivering a three-sensor solution to the Air Force in the near future and a multiple aircraft version in late summer.



In addition to aircraft protection, the technology shows promise for fence line, fixed facilities and commercial applications where cleared zone security is a consideration, Russell said.