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C4iSR: Air

DSEI 2019: UK orders Leonardo/Thales protection system for RAF Shadow fleet

13 September 2019
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The Leonardo/Thales Miysis DIRCM countermeasures system, which the UK Ministry of Defence has ordered for the RAF’s Shadow ISTAR fleet, on display at DSEI 2019. Source: Leonardo

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted Leonardo and Thales, under a single source procurement, to deliver an integrated defensive aids system (DAS) for the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) fleet of eight Raytheon Shadow R1 special mission aircraft.

The contract, announced on 11 September at the DSEI 2019 defence exhibition in London, is geared at protecting the Beechcraft King Air 350-derived Shadow R1 electronic intelligence (ELINT) aircraft from the latest-generation infrared-seeking missiles.

As noted by Leonardo, the contract will be delivered by a combined MoD/Leonardo/Thales team under a Leonardo prime systems integration contract, with the equipment being integrated onto the platform by Raytheon UK. Initial operating capability (IOC) is targeted for early 2021.

The system to be fitted comprises the Thales Elix-IR threat warner, the Leonardo DAS controller, the Leonardo Miysis directed infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) suite, and the Thales Vicon countermeasures dispensing system.

"The single-source selection by the MoD follows the recent SALT III international trials hosted by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration in Sweden. There, the integrated Miysis/Elix-IR system, using a jamming waveform developed by the UK MoD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, proved its ability to defeat infrared missiles in live fire exercises," Leonardo said in a statement.

Having entered service in 2007, the Shadow is operated out of RAF Waddington by 14 Squadron. The Shadow was originally procured as an urgent operational requirement (UOR) to take on the ISTAR role in Afghanistan and beyond. The secretive nature of its mission has meant that, while its existence has been acknowledged, neither the MoD nor Raytheon have divulged any details as to the specific nature of its role or the means by which it performs it.

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