African presidential Boeing 737 gets missile protection system


Israel’s Bird Aerosystems has delivered its Airborne Missile Protection Systems (AMPS) to a VIP customer in Africa, which will protect a presidential Boeing 737 aircraft.

The company on 24 June said the AMPS system includes an AeroShield POD and MACS sensor. It did not specify which country had ordered the missile protection system, but only around half a dozen African nations fly Boeing 737s (mostly in Boeing Business Jet configuration) for presidential and VIP transport. According to the Scramble aviation society’s database, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia fly presidential/government Boeing 737s, with most of these being operated by their respective air forces.

Bird Aerosystems said the AeroShield POD is designed to be fitted onto wide-body aircraft and includes a Missile Launch Detection Sensors (MILDS), Missile Approach Confirmation Sensor (MACS), Flare Dispensers and an inertial measurement unit (IMU). It can be easily transferred between different aircraft. The AeroShield pod can use both Bird’s SPREOS directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system and flares.

The Bird Aerosystems Missile Approach Confirmation Sensor (MACS) inputs data from passive electro-optical sensors to confirm a missile is approaching and slews to the direction of the incoming threat and verifies the threat’s validity. MACS also collects relevant information on the target (velocity and distance) and calculates its time-to-impact.

Ronen Factor, Co-Chief Executive Officer and Founder at Bird Aerosystems, stated that “We are thrilled to complete another successful delivery of Bird’s AMPS to a customer in Africa. This delivery, which was completed as planned despite the ongoing international coronavirus crisis, follows previous deliveries and installations of Bird’s AMPS and AeroShield POD on different military and civilian aircraft around the world. Small and lightweight, Bird’s AeroShield POD is ideal for wide-body aircrafts such as the B737, and provides optimum platform protection against MANPADS [man-portable air defence systems] with minimal interference to the aircraft. Integrating Bird’s MACS sensor, the system ensures zero false alarms”.

AMPS is already in operational use by several different customers in Africa, protecting of Head of State aircraft and helicopters, Bird Aerosystems said.

In August 2019, Bird Aerosystems said it had received a contract to provide missile protection systems for United Nations’ Mi-17 helicopters operating in Africa. Its AMPS-MV solution would be installed on UN Mi-17s operating in dangerous and complicated areas. The UN is already using BIRD’s airborne missile protection system (AMPS), and this is a follow-on order that will allow the UN to install the systems on additional helicopters, the company said.

The system is designed to automatically detect, verify, and foil surface-to-air missile (SAM) attacks through the effective use of countermeasure decoys (flares and chaff) and by directional infrared countermeasures that jam the missile’s infrared seeker.

AMPS-MV operates autonomously and comprises MILDS AN/AAR-60 (UV) sensors that automatically detect the missile launch and send the indication/alarm to an EW Suite Controller (MCDU). The MCDU activates the Missile Approach Confirmation Sensor (MACS) that slews to the direction of the incoming threat and verifies the validity of the threat.

Only upon validation of the threat by both MILDS and MACS sensors will the MCDU confirm the threat, initiate the optimized countermeasure dispensing programme, and provide visual and audio alerts to the aircraft crew. AMPS-MV can handle up to eight simultaneous threats.

Bird Aerosystems says it specialises in airborne missile protection systems and airborne surveillance, information and observation (ASIO) solutions. Its solutions are in use with commercial and military organisations, including NATO forces, the US government, Airbus and other major aircraft manufacturers. It says its AMPS is combat proven and has been operational in Afghanistan and Iraq with over 400 installations on platforms such as the EC155, BK117, EC145, EC635, EC135, Cougar, EC225, C-130, P-3C, B350ER, B200, Bell 407, CH-53, S92, UH-60, Mi-17 and Mi-8.