NATO: Bulgaria May Have RPG Protection Solution for Helicopters
NATO reports that they’ve moved a step closer to providing their helicopters with added protection from rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) thanks to the successful demonstration of prototype technology in Bulgaria. While countermeasures exist for shoulder-fired infrared missiles, the simple ballistic flight and fuzes on RPGs are a different challenge. Helicopters are very difficult to hit with RPGs, but it is not impossible – “Black Hawk Down” in Mogadishu, Somalia was one example, and the 2005 downing of a MH-47G Special Forces helicopter in Afghanistan was another. With known terrorist suppliers producing a surfeit of RPGs, and NATO countries facing future operations in Afghanistan and urban terrains, this kind of work is timely. See also this US Army CALL report re: RPG-7s in Iraq.
Early testing has been promising, with important improvements made over the past year. More testing must be conducted, and the next stage is to demonstrate practical application by fitting the technology to a helicopter so the RPG debris impact and the influence of different weights and shapes can be measured. More active measures that destroy incoming RPGs rather than just preventing them from exploding are also under investigation.
Bulgaria is the lead country in the development of helicopter protection technology under NATO’s Defence Against Terrorism program, with Greece and Poland also involved. Poland is currently conducting a parallel programme of testing. Read the entire NATO article.