Airbus Helicopters has begun flight trials of a new hostile fire indicator (HFI) system that it is developing for the German armed forces, the company announced on 6 April.
The first phase of the trials, which are being conducted on behalf of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment Information Technology and In-Service Support are being flown aboard a German Air Force VFW-Sikorsky CH-53G Stallion testbed helicopter. The first test flight of the testbed CH-53G took place at the Bundeswehr Technical and Airworthiness Centre for Aircraft (WTD 61) in Manching on 30 March.
According to Airbus Helicopters, the aim of the study is to demonstrate different technologies that are able to detect gunfire ranging from 5.56 mm to 20 mm in calibre. The system utilises a set of acoustic and infrared sensors on the airframe to detect and localise the hostile fire by sound and muzzle flash, with a radar system perceiving any bullet-sized object directed at the helicopter. In detecting the incoming fire, the HFI is geared to inform the helicopter crew as to the precise location of its origin, enabling them to avoid the area and/or call in other forces to deal with it.
With the first phase of the tests focusing on the integration, functionality and effects of the acoustic and infrared sensors on the helicopter's flight characteristics, the radar system will be installed at a later phase of the trials. Towards the end of the year and into 2017 a flight test campaign with firing tests is planned to be carried out at the Bundeswehr Technical Centre for Weapons and Ammunition (WTD 91) in Meppen, with the final results of the study expected in the second half of 2017.
Airbus Helicopters is leading the effort, with assistance from Airbus Defence and Space, Rheinmetall Defence and Fraunhofer FKIE.
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