New Sensor Protects Army Helicopters From Small Arms

New Sensor Protects Army Helicopters From Small Arms

The U.S. Army is in the early phases of a fleet-wide technology upgrade of its Common Missile Warning System, or CMWS — helicopter sensors that can provide detection against small arms fire in addition to missile threats.

So far, the Army has ordered 1,300 CMWS Generation 3 systems, technology which improves the processing power of the original system to add small arms fire detection technology, said Bill Staib, director of threat management solutions, BAE.

The existing or prior CMWS technology, now installed across the Army’s helicopter fleet of Apaches, Chinooks, Kiowas and others, places five ultraviolet sensors around the skin of the aircraft in order to detect incoming missiles.


The sensors are connected to an on-board computer, called an electronic control unit, which then helps the helicopter change course to avoid the missile or send out flares to divert the incoming threat off course.

“CMWS Gen 3 gives us a significant improvement in the processing capability which allows us to do a lot more with the software.  With a lot more processing power we not only have the latest missile warning algorithms but also have the hostile fire indication allowing us to detect small arms fire and RPGs,” Staib explained.

With the additional processing power, the UV sensors are able to provide information about multiple classes of small arms fire, including RPGs, he added.

CMWS Gen 3, which does not add any additional hardware or weight to the system, is engineered at a BAE facility in Nashua, N.H. So far, the systems are installed on more than 200 aircraft in Afghanistan, a fielding effort which began in October of last year, Staib said.

BAE has delivered about 400 of the 1300 CMWS Gen 3 systems ordered so far and plans to outfit the entire Army fleet of about 2,000 CMWS systems.

CMWS Gen 3 was live-fire tested by the Army last summer and in 2012, Staib added.

The system is also configured to integrate with the Army’s Common Infrared Countermeasures, or CIRCM, a lightweight sensor and laser-jammer system designed to identify incoming missiles and throw them off course.

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Now that is a useful technology.

A self-defense mode that shone a blinding laser at small arms discharges would be nice. Or some other non-lethal system (LRAP?). Or one that puts 30mm on target. Obviously for COIN the latter isn’t necessary, but against a nation-state army being able to return fire against small arms, fifty-cals and 23mm automatically would allow the pilot to focus on completing the mission or escaping.

All depends on how close the small arms fire its useful if a mile away but useless if its right under you.

The JAGM is designed to have a 360 degrees engagement capability so maybe it will be possible to combine the warning system with the missile for a quick automatic counter-attack. The warning system gives a approximate position of the target and the missile uses its tri-mode seeker to find it accurately.

We will probably see more capabilities like that on future platforms, like on the F-35 with the DAS.

Why would the F-35’s ever need them they won’t ever let them below 20,000 ft during a battle.

Hell the Air force restricts most aircraft to 10,000ft pretty much

In bad weather you have to go down low to do the job. Of course the F-35s would try to do their job from altitude but in case of a large scale war you can’t wait for 1 week for the sky to clear…

That’s why I think that the USAF should invest more in loitering weapons like LOCAAS or Spear. They can be launch from altitude and get down low to find their targets. The SDB 2 being only a glide bomb, it can’t loiter. The JAGM can’t loiter either. That kind of weapon used in mass would be revolutionary.

So would the cost and the logistics train to carry these large weapons. Ultimately you have to build your military to fight a peer, not hoodlums, pirates, and thieves.

Huh which large weapon are you talking about? I am talking about small miniature weapons like the LOCAAS ( about 100lbs with 100+miles range) or the spear which is the british equivalent of the SDB2 ( can be launched from the quadruple ejector and has the same dimensions as the SDB) but with a motor to have the ability to loiter ( max range 100+ miles ).

You need super advanced weapons like that if you don’t want the F-35s to go down low, and possibly get shot down. If the F35s don’t have such weapons and if the weather is bad, they can’t wait for ever for the weather to improve, they have to go down low to do their job.

“In bad weather you have to go down low to do the job.”

If GPS wants to fail, GPS will fail. Unless JSF is going to use its gun pods…in which case, take your chances with the SDBs.

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