Processing power protects planes

By Leon Engelbrecht
Johannesburg, 14 Nov 2007

Saab Avitronics has released an update of its Integrated Defensive Aids Suite (IDAS). It takes advantage of advances in computer processing power over the last decade to be both smaller and more powerful.

The Swedish-South African defence company released the new lightweight Compact IDAS (CIDAS), at the bi-annual Dubai air show, yesterday.

Saab Avitronics introduced IDAS about a decade ago as the world's first fully modular composite warning and countermeasures dispenser system for military aircraft. The system warns fighters, helicopters and troop transports that they are the subject of a ground-launched missile attack and allows them to respond appropriately.

"There has been a massive increase in computer processing power over the last decade," says incoming Saab Avitronics senior business development executive Philip Wilcock.

"That has allowed us a tremendous amount of refinement," he adds. In addition to upping processing capability and dropping size and weight, the CIDAS has expanded data storage, allowing for both a bigger threat library, that lets the system keep track of known threats, and a greater capacity to record and analyse new threat signatures, he notes.

Expensive but scalable

Wilcock's predecessor, Gerrie Radloff, says the design goals for CIDAS were to retain all the good IDAS features, but reduce the box count and increase sensor performance through increased sensitivity, selectivity, probability of intercept and spatial coverage for the missile warning, as well as laser and radar warning systems.

"The system is scalable," he says, adding that hardware and software improvements have also reduced the false warning rate.

"It will give us the competitive-edge for another decade," Radloff says. "Equipment like this is expensive. But so are the aircraft it is fitted to and the pilot who flies it."

A choice

The system is being marketed in two variants: CIDAS 100 and CIDAS 300.

CIDAS 100 is the small and lightweight variant with only electro-optic sensors and small line replaceable units. It is designed for the protection of aircraft against man portable air defence systems and laser-based threats, many of which are encountered in the prevailing peacekeeping environment.

"CIDAS 100 is particularly suitable for small platforms like light helicopters and fighters where space and/or mass is always critical issues," says Ben Ash, VP of business development and marketing at Saab Avitronics.

The CIDAS 300 is the high-end system that can be configured with the full multi-spectral detection capability for radar, including an optional digital receiver for laser and missile approach warning.

IDAS and CIDAS were both developed in SA.

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