NATO, Airbus and Elbit Systems have successfully integrated the J-MUSIC Direct Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) self-protection system on-board the A330 tanker aircraft that form NATO’s Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF).
The three-day long integration flight tests, performed at the end of May, were led by Airbus’ team, supported by Elbit Systems engineers and monitored by representatives of NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency and the Organization for Joint Armament Co-operation.
“The completion of this milestone is a significant step that paves the way for the delivery of the first A330… for the MMF fleet by 2020,” Alberto Gutiérrez, head of Military Aircraft at Airbus, said. “It also underlines the excellent work done by the Airbus team together with Elbit and the customers to ensure Europe’s strategic air-to-air refuelling capabilities for decades to come.”
During these flight tests the J-Music DIRCM system defeated multiple threat types directed at the A330 MRTT aircraft whilst conducting a series of flight manoeuvres. The integration flight tests also established that the system could handle simultaneous threat scenarios and overcome head-on, tail-on and side-on threats from several ranges and at different altitudes.
Elbit Systems’ DIRCM integrates laser technology with a high frame-rate thermal camera and a small sealed-mirror turret.
“The successful integration of the Elbit J-Music self-protection system adds security and operational flexibility to the fleet, making it even more interesting for other nations to join this program,” Peter Dohmen, General Manager, NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), said.
“Managing European armament programmes is at the core of OCCAR, so I am very proud that the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation is playing a major role in the MMF program,” Arturo Alfonso Meiriño, Director of OCCAR, said.
“We are proud to take part in the MMF programme and to deliver the J-Music, a mature DIRCM system, to protect the entire fleet,” Elad Aharonson, General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR Division, concluded.
The new-generation A330 MRTT extends the endurance and range of fighter aircraft and provides strategic transport capability for passengers and freight. The RAAF's KC-30As are a heavily modified version of the A330, capable of keeping 50 tons of fuel ready for up to four hours at a distance of 1800 kilometres from its home base.