A UH-60 Black Hawk assists in airborne operations June 22. (Sgt. Sara Marchus / US Army National Guard)
Farnborough International Airshow
LONDON — Raytheon is undergoing developmental test on its Boomerang Air system and expects to get clearance from a US military customer by the end of the year, opening up the potential for the helicopter-mounted weapons fire detection system for major sales.
Boomerang Air is a derivative of the company’s Boomerang and Warrior X ground based systems. It uses a microphone array to provide 360 degree audio coverage that can detect when a weapon is used and where the fire is coming from within a second of discharge.
Getting the system to work on a helicopter, which has significantly more noise and vibration than a ground based system, was the major challenge for company engineers to work out, said Roy Azevedo, Raytheon’s vice-president for advanced concepts and technology.
“That’s absolutely the technology thrust and breakthrough that we’ve been investing in the most,” he said. “It’s some pretty significant signal processing that allows you to cancel out the noise and be able to discern the sound of a bullet amongst all that noise.”
Azevedo could not reveal the name of the US customer who intends to procure the system, but noted that it was tested for the CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, both of which are operated by the Army.
Once under contract, Boomerang Air could be put into the current helicopter fleets during regular depot maintenance. Azevedo described the installation of the 30-pound system as “about as minimal a retrofit as you can do on a helicopter.”
Company officials hope to use this week’s Farnborough International Airshow to discuss the possibility of getting Boomerang Air on international fleets as well. Azevedo said the company had “several” meetings planned with potential customers, but noted that foreign sales would have to wait until after the US gives the final approval.
“Because we had no yet demonstrated the level of performance we knew it would take to have it as a robust system, we’ve basically held off on having discussions before having the system in hand,” Azevedo said of discussions with international partners. “So our plan is most certainly once we’re allowed to discuss the system we’re going to go out and talk to our allies and folks who have shown interest in the system before.
He noted potential for sales through both the Foreign Military Sales and direct commercial sales routes.