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Old 12-29-2003, 06:45 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool Aircraft defensive systems coming for ?04 deployments Corps makes anti-missile gear a

Date: December 29, 2003

Aircraft defensive systems coming for ?04 deployments
Corps makes anti-missile gear a funding priority

By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer

The Marine Corps plans to outfit all of its assault support aircraft and helicopters with the latest anti-aircraft missile defense systems before deploying to Iraq next spring.
With an initial budget of $18 million, the Corps will purchase up-to-date sensors and countermeasure pods for hundreds of AH-1W Super Cobras, UH-1N Hueys, CH-46 Sea Knights, CH-53E Super Stallions and KC-130 Hercules.

Eventually, the Corps plans to boost funding to $51 million through fiscal 2004. It will use the initial $18 million to outfit aircraft tapped for Iraq duty in March.

The money is meant to accelerate existing upgrade programs that have been underfunded in favor of other aviation priorities, Marine officials said.

The renewed effort to buy and install those systems comes after five Army helicopters were shot down in Iraq.

An Army aviation spokesman said all of its helicopters in-theater are equipped with missile-defense systems, but the service has since launched a program to modernize all its helicopters with the new Advanced Tactical Infrared Countermeasures system and the Common Missile Warning System, both previously not funded. The Army plans to field 59 systems over the next two to three years, said Bob Hunt, a spokesman at the Army?s Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala., and will outfit all the service?s helicopters once full-rate production is launched after that.

?It?s not like this has never been one of our priorities,? said Maj. Alex Chatman, a budget official in the aviation plans and policy branch of Marine Corps headquarters. ?As this issue goes up, certain people in the leadership may not necessarily see the importance of this over other programs.?

In the past, the Navy Department, which allocates spending for Marine aviation programs, hadn?t funded the defensive upgrades, putting money instead into other programs such as the KC-130J Hercules refueler/transport, AH-1Z Cobra and UH-1Y Huey upgrades, flight hours and aircraft maintenance, Marine budget officials said.

The officials said that Marine helicopters conducting recent combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan had some defensive equipment aboard, but that it wasn?t always the most up-to-date.

While Marine officials have been working out the details for weeks, the money was only just made available from the Corps? fiscal 2004 readiness account for the accelerated upgrade plan. Budget officials plan to recoup the money from the $87 billion wartime supplemental funding legislation signed by President Bush Nov. 6.

The Corps aims to outfit its entire assault support aircraft fleet with the Integrated Aircraft Survivability Suite, which includes the ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser, the AAR-47 missile approach warning system and the ALQ-157 infrared countermeasures system. The suite can be activated manually or set to automatically launch countermeasures, depending on the anti-aircraft missile threat pilots likely are to encounter.

Each defensive system plays a unique role in countering a missile attack. The approach warning system detects the launch of a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile or rocket-propelled grenade and warns the pilot of its approach. Suppressor systems are used to spoil an anti-aircraft missile?s heat-seeking lock on the aircraft, and countermeasures systems launch decoys that spoof the missile into following the wrong target.

However, neither suppressors nor countermeasures dispensers can protect against rocket-propelled grenades, which are unguided. Several Army helicopters have been lost at the hands of a skilled RPG shooter, although experts say RPGs are difficult to use against a fast-moving helicopter.

Marine aviation officials have pored over the entire list of aircraft set to deploy to Iraq in the two seven-month rotations planned for next year to identify which need the updated equipment. Aircraft that are first to deploy will be first to get the new defensive systems, said Lt. Col. Will Thomas, top budget official for the aviation branch at Marine Corps headquarters. Aircraft on tap for the September rotation will get the upgrades next, with aircraft used in ?additional global war on terrorism commitments? to be outfitted after that.

But aviation officials say the anti-missile systems are just one part of a pilot?s defense, with flying tactics and evasion techniques also playing important roles.

?This is the material end of a solution going forward,? Chatman said. ?There?s tactics and procedures that we?ll have in place to couple with this, to help increase the survivability of not only [infrared] but also shoulder-fired weapons ? whether they?re machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades or whatever.?


http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/sto...PER-2466153.php


Sempers,

Roger
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IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY HUSBAND
SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
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Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............

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