Aircraft Self-defense Pods (ASP)
Since the late 1950's and early 1960's anti-aircraft missiles have been the bane of military aircraft. Whether fired from the ground or another aircraft, missiles are the primary means of destroying an aircraft in flight. The presence and type of an anti-aircraft missile launching platform can dictate whether or not a particular air mission is possible or can significantly lessen its probability of success and increase the odds of aircraft attrition.
Countermeasures have been developed and deployed to aid aircraft survivability in environments with an anti-aircraft missile threat. Almost all anti-aircraft missiles today rely on either some form of radar guidance or infrared (“IR”) guidance. Thus most countermeasures are designed to confuse or evade radar and/or IR guidance systems. Military aircraft are often equipped with a device or devices to eject flares to attempt to confuse IR guidance systems and bundles of chaff (usually strips of aluminized mylar) in an attempt to confuse radar guidance systems. More recently aircraft had been designed to avoid detection from radar and IR detection systems. These low-observable aircraft or stealth aircraft often must sacrifice payload or performance capabilities.
In response to these counter measures, missile designers have developed more sophisticated seekers and guidance systems. Flares and chaff seldom confuse modern missiles. Some missiles and tracking systems available today display capability against stealth aircraft. The continued development and deployment of systems that take advantage of flaws in stealth aircraft design is likely to render stealth technology as it is known today obsolete in the near future. However, what if it was possible to protect practically any aircraft against practically any missile threat? Shiva's Aircraft Self-defense Pods (“ASP”) can effectively protect practically any aircraft against the missile threats of today and tomorrow.
Missile threats to aircraft can be divided into two broad categories, surface-to-air (“SAMs”) and air-to-air (“AAMs”). SAMs can be further subdivided into high-altitude, long-range missiles such as the Russian S-400, medium-altitude systems such as Roland, and low-altitude systems including ManPADS such as Stinger. High and medium- altitude SAMs rely upon radar guidance.
ManPADS mostly utilize IR guidance, however one notable exception is the British Starstreak which uses laser designation. Some ManPADS have also been modified and incorporated into vehicle mounted platforms and also modified for use on helicopters and light aircraft. AAMs can be divided into BVRAAMs and SRAAMs. BVRAAMs are comprised of LRAAMs and MRAAMs which because of their range invariably rely upon radar guidance systems. On the other hand, most SRAAMs utilize IR guidance. Flight speeds of AAMs range from Mach 2 to 5, which means closing speeds can approach or exceed Mach 7.
In addition to their high speed, some LRAAMs are designed to climb to altitudes of 30 kilometers or higher and thus approach the target aircraft from above. This can result in the aircrew having little or no warning of the incoming missile.
Modern missiles rely heavily on software and modern sensor technologies to discriminate the target aircraft from decoys and other deceptive technologies that may be deployed. This is an evolutionary battle between the designers of aircraft and the designers of air-defense missiles. However, due to technological advances in guidance system technology, these missiles are not easily confused by flares, chaff, or electronic countermeasures (ECM). Several modern missiles are also capable of turning faster and tighter than any manned aircraft. The traditional evasive actions of dropping flares and chaff and commencing several high-G maneuvers are not effective against these advanced missiles. Furthermore, most modern SAMs (except for ManPADS) launch missiles in pairs at any given target. This almost guarantees the destruction of the aircraft.
Missile Countermeasures – Current Systems
Missile guidance systems, with few exceptions, rely on either radar or IR guidance. Thus, current missile countermeasures are primarily designed to defeat one or both of these guidance systems. Chaff, usually strips or fibers of metalized plastic or glass, was perhaps the first radar countermeasure deployed. This creates a large radar-opaque cloud which presents a larger radar reflection than the aircraft. Unfortunately for the aircraft, this cloud of chaff quickly slows down, a property exploited by modern weapon guidance systems to discriminate the chaff cloud from the target aircraft.
Although chaff is still utilized, radar countermeasures have become much more sophisticated. These more advanced countermeasures rely upon electronic means (ECM) or low-observable (stealth) technology. ECM uses radar jamming or decoying to confuse radar. However, modern frequency-agile (also called frequency-hopping) radar can defeat most jamming and decoying methods.
Shiva's Aircraft Self-defense Pods (ASPs)
Shiva's answer to anti-aircraft missiles is a pod, the ASP, that may be mounted on a hard- point. This pod contains threat detection, ranging, and tracking systems which rely on multispectral infrared, radar, and lidar sensors which enable detection of a threat and provides targeting information to systems incorporated in the pod to defeat the threat. The first threat countermeasure which is employed is a laser dazzler system which employs the beams from several high-power pulsed lasers of different wavelengths. These beams are directed towards the incoming threat in order to blind and confuse (i.e., dazzle) any infrared, ultraviolet, or visible light sensors aboard the threat. This will often result in the missile losing lock and tracking of the aircraft.
However, dazzling will not work against radar-guided weapons and sometimes the confused missile may still approach the aircraft close enough to detonate the warhead. To address these scenarios, the pod also incorporates short range missiles which are command-guided by the pod's command and control system. The ASP fires pairs of the missiles at threats which meet defined parameters indicating that dazzling alone is insufficient to counter the threat. The missiles are directed from the pod to points where the detonation of the missiles' warheads will explode and intercept and destroy the incoming missile. These missiles also have a backup infrared guidance system. The ASP monitors the missiles and the target. If it determines that the threat may survive the intercept, another pair of missiles is launched. This will continue until the situation is resolved or the pod runs out of missiles. All of this happens totally autonomously without any input from anyone on the aircraft.
It is anticipated that most aircraft would carry two pods, one on each wing. The missiles in an ASP can be loaded to face either aft, forward, or a combination for optimization of the best range against the anticipated threat axis of attack. The missiles can be re-directed along any heading after launch by the ASP's control system. Thus, all missiles aboard an ASP may be brought into playregardless of the direction of attack. The current estimated intercept range for these missiles is five to seven kilometers from the aircraft against most threats.
The ASPs can communicate with each other and with any other ASP within range of their integral communication system and with the proper encoding. This allows for the ASPs to coordinate their defense. It also means that aircraft not carrying an ASP or carrying an empty ASP can be protected if suitably located within a loaded ASP's defensive envelope. Of course, parameters may be set which determine priority of protection and also IFF usage.
The ASP resembles an external fuel drop tank. It is approximately 7 meters long and has a diameter of roughly 60 cm. It houses sensor modules at its fore and aft ends along with its midsection. The arrangement is designed to eliminate blind spots as much as possible and to give the highest probability of early threat detection. Phased array radar is also incorporated to improve detection range against many potential threats and to assist in detection in reduced visibility conditions.
An ASP may be mounted easily to any aircraft capable of carrying an external fuel tank. Even those aircraft which don't normally mount such pods, but have a structural point that can be modified to allow mounting of the pod may carry at least one ASP. Power for the ASP can be provided from the carrier aircraft and/or from onboard batteries. The computer system utilizes triple redundancy and is designed, along with the rest of the ASP, to function with battle damage.
Additionally, while the ASP is designed to operate autonomously, it may also be integrated with an aircraft's detection and tracking systems to provide, supplement, and/or utilize the aircraft's detection and tracking capabilities. If the aircraft has a fire-control system, the ASP may be integrated with it. This allows the ASP's missiles to be used in other roles such as against aircraft or even surface targets. Although, because of their short range and warhead design they are not ideal for either of these roles.
Shiva's ASP can provide tactical, attack, and logistical support aircraft with a very effective, and cost effective, defensive capability against ever evolving missile threats. When it comes down to it, no matter how sophisticated the guidance system, in order for a missile to pose a threat to an aircraft, it has to be able to approach the aircraft close enough for its shrapnel to harm the aircraft. ASP can quite efficiently and effectively prevent this.
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