$10M Adds “Disco Balls” to Canada’s New Helicopters
BAE Systems received a $10.4 million contract from General Dynamics Canada to provide 31 AN/ALQ-144A(V)5 countermeasure systems, spares, and integrated logistics support for Canada’s 28 new CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters, a variant of the H-92 Superhawk medium-lift helicopter. Under an agreement with overall program prime contractor Sikorsky International Operations Inc., General Dynamics Canada will be responsible for integrating the multi-sensor mission systems into the Cyclones.
BAE Systems’ ALQ-144A (also known as “the disco ball”) is a lightweight countermeasures set that protects helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft against surface-to-air and air-to-air infrared homing missiles by creating multiple apparent sources of heat radiation. It also equips other Canadian helicopters, and more than 6,000 ALQ-144 systems are currently in use throughout the world. Writing in a February 2003 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology, however, David Rockwell of the Teal Group didn’t sound dazzled:
“Improved IRCM systems are especially needed for thousands of helicopters. The deployment of U.S. Army AH-64A Apaches to Kosovo in 1999 showed that Apache pilots have lost faith in the Army’s current IRCM system, BAE Systems’ AN/ALQ-144(V). The Apaches never went into battle, in large part due to the perceived inadequacy of the electronic warfare suite. These concerns with the ALQ-144 have been repeated in Afghanistan”
On a brighter note, the Fall 2004 issue of Army Communicator notes that the Tobyhanna Army Depot, PA used lean techniques to generate $2.3 million in savings, while meeting a significant workload increase around required rebuilding of ALQ-144 units returning from Iraq and Afghanistan:
“We reorganized into productions cells to eliminate being spread out all over the shop,” said Tony Gentle, ASE division chief. “This reduced the time it takes to repair and test each ALQ-144 from 42 days to 20 days. We have another Lean Rapid Improvement Event in the near future to further reduce the repair cycle time to seven days.”