January 7, 2008, Nashua, NH--BAE Systems has received a $29 million award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to test an infrared-laser-based aircraft missile-defense system on passenger aircraft. The tests will evaluate the system's compatibility with daily passenger airline operations and maintenance.
The latest contract is for the third phase of the DHS counter-MANPADS program's research development activities. There will be no testing of the JETEYE system's missile-defeating capability, as that testing was done at government test ranges as part of an earlier phase of the program.
As part of the Department of Homeland Security's counter-man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) program, BAE Systems will install its JETEYE aircraft missile defense system on up to three American Airlines aircraft. The company will evaluate the system's compatibility with daily passenger airline operations and maintenance.
"From the beginning, we actively engaged with U.S. cargo and passenger carriers to commercialize our technology to meet the needs of the airlines," said Burt Keirstead, director of commercial aircraft programs for BAE Systems. "We're confident that the passenger-aircraft phase of the program will provide valuable data for DHS's findings, providing critical, fact-based information to the airline industry and policy-makers."
The JETEYE system is based on BAE Systems' existing directable infrared countermeasures technology, used to protect military aircraft. With this award, JETEYE will be the only system installed on both cargo and passenger aircraft. The technology is intended to stop attacks by detecting heat from missiles, then responding in a fraction of a second by firing laser beams to jam the missiles' guidance systems.
"American Airlines is pleased to continue its partnership with BAE Systems and is fully committed to supporting and participating in the passenger airline evaluation phase of the DHS's counter-MANPADS program," said Craig Barton, American Airlines managing director. "We believe this is a key step toward understanding the true impact of the technology and operational models on the airline industry."
DHS selected BAE Systems in 2004 to adapt the company's military countermeasures technology to protect commercial aircraft against shoulder-fired missiles. Since then, BAE Systems has received $105 million in funding and has delivered more than 14,000 infrared countermeasure systems worldwide.