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UK’s MoD Science Lab Invites Industry to Help Develop Hostile Fire Systems

By By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief | October 9, 2013

The UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl) is requesting industry assistance as it searches to develop systems to help keep helicopter crews from being hit by man-operated hostile ground fire.

Locating and avoiding ground fire is one of the biggest challenges any helicopter crew can face when flying above an operational environment. Training synthetically, either in a laboratory or in the air with simulated live fire, must reflect the qualities of real engagements.

“We are looking for a two-stage approach: a simulated approach in a laboratory environment and then a live flight environment using a simulated weapons system,” states dstl’s Ian Pothecary, a member of the Countermeasure Concepts team.



Dstl's cockpit flight simulator.


From the threat operator’s perspective, the system needs to simulate weapon characteristics including a rapid rate of fire and effects such muzzle flash, vibration, smoke and tracer. 

Representing the aircrew’s perspective, Royal Air Force Squadron Leader James Birtwistle explained that the importance of simulation is that it is cheap, easy to repeat and you have full control. But he did not ignore the very necessary need to conduct live flying training as well.

The main requirement is to reproduce the human performance reactions of flightcrew as well as that of the threat operator. What dstl needs is a way of simulating the weapon effect and fusing that data with that of the aircraft. In other words, “replicating these interactions in simulation, coupled with Defensive Aid Suite (DAS), in order to develop countermeasures.”

Dstl’s hostile fire research is conducted at Porton Down in southern England, one of three sites where dstl is located. The organization provides science and technology (S&T) research for the UK Ministry of Defence and is run along commercial lines.

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