A British Chinook helicopter prepares to take off from Kandahar Airfield. Britain is buying a common missile warning system to help protect helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. (JOHN D MCHUGH/AFP)
LONDON — Britain is buying a BAE Systems third-generation (Gen 3) common missile warning system (CMWS) that helps protect helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft against small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as missiles.
The Ministry of Defence is spending $28 million acquiring the latest version of the missile warning system from the US arm of BAE, having previously acquired a second-generation version of the company’s technology.
The military will replace some second-generation systems and outfit new aircraft. Platforms, including Apache, Chinook, Wildcat and Merlin helicopters, will receive the equipment, the company said in a statement.
Philip Dunne, the MoD procurement minister, said in a statement that the CMWS “provides proven detection of missile, rocket and small arms threats for tactical, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft. This contract will ensure our armed forces will have around 300 systems in total.”
A spokeswoman for the MoD said the system would be used predominantly on rotor-wing aircraft, but one fixed-wing platform would also be outfitted.
She declined to name the fixed-wing aircraft for operational and security reasons.
Small arms and rocket-propelled grenades have been a constant threat to air crews in Afghanistan.
Bill Staib, BAE’s director of threat management solutions, says the new system will offer better protection by enhancing detection.
“Our engineers have now enhanced the system with third-generation technology, integrating hostile fire indication, missile warning and data recording into a single unit,” Staib said.
Earlier this year, the US arm of the company announced it had signed the first tranche of a proposed $496 million indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with the US Army to supply the latest version of the CMWS.
The $39 million order for the first tranche will see Gen 3 systems fitted in theater on Apache, Kiowa and Black Hawk helicopters in Afghanistan. More than 1,000 systems are expected to be fitted to US Army platforms over the next two years. ■