Indra has signed a contract with the Spanish Ministry of Defence to equip 23 NH90 helicopters with the most advanced electronic defence systems, essential to reinforce security of the aircraft and its crew in the area of operations.
The amount of the contract amounts to 111 million euros, will have a duration of 7 years and provides for scope extensions up to a total of 135 million euros approved by the Council of Ministers.
The company will equip the GSPA and MSPT versions of this helicopter that will be used by the Spanish Army, Air Force and Navy, with a complete self-protection suite. The most innovative elements will include the Enhanced Suite Controller (EW Manager), a Next Generation Full Digital Radar Warning Receiver (RWR ALR-400FD) and InShield Directed Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system.
It will also integrate and supply all the other elements of the electronic defence suite, including missile alert sensors (MWS), laser alert (LWS) and the chaff and flare dispenser system (CMDS) that serve as decoys to circumvent attacks, as well as associated ground support and test equipment.
The helicopters’ ability to fly at low speeds and height and to land virtually anywhere gives them their main operational advantage, but also makes them especially vulnerable to attack. At the same time, threats have grown in sophistication and are now much more effective and difficult to detect.
Radar-guided missiles, for example, use frequency-hopping techniques to conceal themselves while some manpad missile launchers, a cheap and easily available weapon on the black market, employ projectiles with highly sophisticated guidance systems.
To face this challenge, Indra will develop an advanced full band warning receiver, with the ability to instantly monitor the entire electromagnetic spectrum, instead of covering different bands through partial band scanning strategies as was customary until now.
To carry out this task, the company will provide the system with a capacity for direct and instantaneous digitization of the electromagnetic spectrum that will allow it to analyze all signals at an enormous speed and coordinate the rest of the detection and countermeasure elements. In this way, Indra’s alert system will detect threats with an unprecedented level of reliability and immunity against disturbances in order to neutralize them.
Indra’s InShield Directed Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system will blind the thermal guidance system of missiles launched from the ground with a beam of laser energy directed automatically, effectively and safely. This highly sophisticated countermeasures system, capable of countering several simultaneous missile launches, is key to protecting the aircraft when it is about to land, take off or when it is flying low.
The InShield system was tested in 2017 in the NATO EMBOW exercises aboard a Chinook (CH-47). It is currently the only DIRCM system on the market that has proven its capabilities in Alliance testing. The system is being integrated for its operation in the Spanish Air Force’s fleet of A400M aircraft.
With this contract to equip the NH90 with electronic defense systems, Indra continues the work it has been carrying out on this new generation helicopter. The company has already equipped the first shipment of this class of helicopters with self-protection systems, the Tactical Mission System (AMPS) and the Friend-or-Foe Identification System (IFF).