Aviation securityU.K. launches program to improve aircraft, crew protection

Published 25 November 2011

The U.K. Ministry of Defense says it has begun a development program to make aircraft better equipped in the hostile environments that U.K. aircraft are likely to encounter during future operations

The U.K. Ministry of Defense, relying on capabilities and experiences in current operations, says it has begun a development program to make aircraft better equipped in the hostile environments that U.K. aircraft are likely to encounter during future operations.

A U.K. Ministry of Defense release reports that the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), working with U.K. industry, has brought together the country’s leading scientists and engineers to develop the common defensive aids system (CDAS). Defensive aids systems (DAS) consist of two parts: sensors, which identify the threat, and effectors, which employ appropriate countermeasures to defeat that threat, for example, flare or chaff deployment.

CDAS represents a new systems approach, based on an open architecture — components which can freely communicate with any other component regardless of manufacturer, to improve the modularity of sensors and effectors and coherence of the DAS across aircraft.

This development, CDAS Technology Demonstrator program (TDP), a project to establish that the concept works practically, will be achieved through collaboration — a partnership between MOD and an industry team led by Selex Galileo, and comprising Thales, QinetiQ, and BAES.

The release notes that historically, DAS sensors and effectors, sometimes different on different aircraft, have communicated through different, proprietary interfaces developed by the supplier companies. Now, DSTL’s work with industry on the research and development of the new CDAS “spine,” an intelligent communication process between the DAS sensors and effectors with the wider aircraft avionics, will enable easier and more flexible integration of common collections of apparatus. This improved flexibility will enable faster upgrade of the DAS to adapt to changing threats and missions and the increased commonality will reduce development, procurement, and through-life costs to MOD. John Bowker, Team Leader at Dstl said: “The ‘eureka moment’ really came along when we developed the new ’CDAS spine’ concept which now feeds into the MOD’s CDAS programme.”

The CDAS spine concept, evolved from the battle-proven Helicopter Integrated DAS (HIDAS) on U.K. Apaches, was recognized by DSTL scientists and engineers as the most effective model to input into the DAS upgrade on Chinook helicopters. The implementation of this upgrade was undertaken with the assistance of global defense specialists including Agusta Westland, Boeing Helicopters, Selex Galileo, BAES, QinetiQ, and MOD colleagues at Defense Equipment and Support (DE&S), who drove the project.

John continues: “This collaborative approach allowed us to quickly find the best equipment solutions to improve protection to aircraft and personnel. As MOD’s science and technology specialists, Dstl works with industry and academia to increase our knowledge base and develop effective solutions. The Chinook upgrade

is a great example of this and is in Afghanistan right now helping to save lives. Sharing ideas is the most effective way of getting the best capability to the front line.”