Skip to comments.Homeland Security to test anti-missile system
Posted on 04/11/2007 4:06:42 AM PDT by BenLurkin
PALMDALE - The Department of Homeland Security plans to evaluate unmanned, high-altitude vehicles as a platform for a counter-missile defense system for commercial airliners in answer to the threat of shoulder-fired missiles being used to attack aircraft as they take off or land.
While seeking bids for development of such a system, the department plans to conduct trials using the Northrop Grumman Corp.'s Global Hawk and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems' Predator B aircraft.
Both are built and tested in the Antelope Valley; Global Hawk at Northrop's facility at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale and Predator B at General Atomics' site at Grey Butte.
The risk-reduction testing may also include the NASA ER-2 - a variant of the high-altitude U-2 spy plane - and Scaled Composites' Proteus aircraft, according to the department's bid solicitation. The ER-2 aircraft are stationed at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, while the Proteus is a product of Mojave-based Scaled Composites.
The ground-based missile launchers are known as "man-portable air defense systems," or MANPADS. Originally developed in the Vietnam War era as defense against air attacks, they have become increasingly sophisticated weapons capable of offensive threats. Consisting primarily of 6-foot-long launch tubes, the systems can be carried easily and set up by a single person in under a minute.
The Department of Homeland Security plan calls for using proven high-altitude, unmanned systems coupled with defensive counter-measure systems located either on board the aircraft or on the ground around an airport.
In the latter case, the airborne system would carry a missile warning system that would then alert the defense countermeasure on the ground, according to the department solicitation.
According to the solicitation, "the payload design and application must be suitable for employment aboard a Global Hawk or Predator B (unmanned vehicle)."
(Excerpt) Read more at avpress.com ...