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AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser System [CMDS]

The AN/ALE-47 Counter Measures Dispenser System provides an integrated, reprogrammable, computer controlled system to dispense expendables/decoys to enhance aircraft survivability. The ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser System is an integrated, reprogrammable, computer controlled system to dispense expendables/decoys, designed to employ electronic and infrared countermeasures according to a program developed and implemented by the aircrew.

The AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser System Payload Modules are capable of being loaded with 3 types of expendables: XM211, XM212, and M206. They use either the M796 or BBU-35/B cartridge. Missions in a threat environment require the AN/ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispenser System be loaded with Advanced Infrared Countermeasures Munitions (AIRCMM) flare combination. The dispenser is divided into 3 zones and each zone is loaded with 10 of the same type flares. A correctly loaded dispenser will have an equal number of M206, XM211, and XM212 Aircraft Countermeasure Flares. This combination provides optimal countermeasure capability. Deviations from this AIRCMM flare combination will significantly reduce countermeasure capability and increase aircrew vulnerability to Infrared (IR) missile threats. Aircraft shall not be flown into threat environments with any combination of flares other than this AIRCMM flare solution unless authorized by the unit commander. Failure to comply could result in death or injury to personnel or damage to equipment.

ALE-47 provides the aircrew with a "smart" countermeasures dispensing system, allowing the aircrew to optimize the countermeasures employed against anti-aircraft threats. The ALE-47 system is an upgraded version of the ALE-40, which is more automatic and is programmable to better enhance its capabilities depending on aircraft mission.

The CMDS provides the aircraft with protection from air-to-air and surface-to-air heat-seeking missiles. Modes of operation are manual (five stored programs), semi-automatic (operator/sensor activated), and automatic (operator/sensor activated). The CMDS is integrated with the AN/ALQ-156 Missile Detection System to automatically dispense expendables when detected by the AN/ALQ-156 when in the Auto or Semi Auto mode of operation. The CMDS may be pre-programmed to generate optimum expendable response in a single or multiple threat environment.

This continuing joint program, with an Air Force lead, is in full-rate production by Tracor, Austin, TX. The AN/ALE-47 program is managed at the Aeronautical Systems Center (ASC/LN). The Navy acquired 520 systems from FY 1998 to FY 2003.

Acquisition streamlining initiatives have included:

  • First to introduce Contractor Accountability in Design (CAID).
  • Integrated the Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) with DPRO -- much quicker negotiations.
  • Reduced 3 software versions to 1.
  • Requirements definition to fully definitized FFP contract mod in just two months on an urgent and compelling purchase of 22 systems for C-17 aircraft to support Bosnian pull-out.
  • 36 months of deliveries on schedule and under cost -- while achieving a 50% reduction in unit cost from $45,000 to $30,000 for the F-16 shipset.

The AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser System (CMDS) is comprised of the following components: a Digital Control Display Unit (DCDU), a programmer, a junction box, two sequencers, and four dispenser assemblies each containing a payload module (magazine). The system also contains a safety switch, a Mission Load Verifier (MLV) interface port, flare dispense buttons on the pilot's and copilot's cyclic grip, four crew dispense buttons, and a landing gear bypass switch status panel.

The DCDU (located in the center console), provides cockpit interface for manual inputs, such as mode selection, payload inputs, manual dispense program selection, emergency jettison of expendables, and other operational commands. It also displays system status built-in test, expendable inventories, selected functions, and other system feedback data. The AN/ALE-47 programmer, located at STA 355.00 in the left side of the cabin, is the central processing unit for the CMDS and provides the interface between the DCDU and the four flare dispensers via two sequencers.

The programmer receives input data from the AN/ALQ-156 missile detection system, processes it to determine the appropriate dispense response, and sends fire commands to the sequencers when the CMDS is in Auto or Semi Auto mode of operation. The software program within the programmer that manages all communications, operations, and calculations is called the Operational Flight Program (OFP). The programmer also contains the Mission Data File (MDF) which is user-programmable and contains data elements that enable the CMDS to be configured to specific payload types, dispense sequence, and dispense quantities. The OFP and MDF are loaded into the programmer using the Mission Load Verifier (MLV) via the MLV interface port located in the cabin at STA 359.00 overhead.

The junction box provides a centralized location for easy access to CMDS electrical connections between system components while reducing electro magnetic interference impact in the cabin.

There are two AN/ALE-47 sequencers installed in the aft cabin at STA 547.00 BL40R and STA 543.00 BL40R on the UH-1H/V and EH-1H. The sequencers receive payload type and fire commands from the programmer over the Sequencer Data Link (SDL). The sequencers select the dispenser with the appropriate payload and send high power impulses to the dispenser and magazine to dispense the programmed expendable. The sequencers also detect magazine type, monitor the remaining inventories in the magazines, and detect payload misfires. This information is sent to the programmer via the SDL. Each sequencer also performs internal BIT. Sequencer No. 1 controls the two dispensers (1 and 3) on the LH side of the aircraft, and sequencer No. 2 controls the two dispensers (2 and 4) on the RH side of the aircraft. A safety switch located at STA 518.00 BL50L is installed in the CMDS to provide a safeguard against inadvertent dispensing of the expendables. When the safety pin is installed in the safety switch, squib power (28 vdc) from the programmer to the sequencers is interrupted, inhibiting dispensing of expendables. The safety switch provides ground to the AN/ALE-47 squib power relay (located in the AN/ALE-47 junction box at STA 410.00 BL22.5L) when safety pin is removed allowing squib power to the sequencers.

Four flare dispenser assemblies are mounted in pairs on the LH and RH sides of the aft fuselage on the UH-1H/V and EH-1H. Each dispenser assembly consists of housing and a breech. The breech provides interface for the payload module and routes firing and polling pulses from the sequencers to the payload squibs. The payload module assemblies are mounted on the dispenser assemblies. Each payload module assembly consists of a payload module and breech plate. The payload modules can hold up to 30 expendable cartridges which are loaded and installed in the dispenser assemblies prior to the mission.

Manual dispensing of expendables is done by pressing the FLARE DISP buttons on the pilot's and copilot's cyclic grip or by using one of the four crew dispense buttons located at STA 200.00 and 400.00 L and R in the cabin. Setting the DCDU MODE switch to MAN and the MANUAL switch to positions 1, 2, 3, or 4, enables the pilot or copilot to manually dispense expendables. Manual dispensing by crewmembers is accomplished by pressing one of the four crew dispense buttons with the DCDU mode switch in MAN. The landing gear bypass switch status panel enables testing of the CMDS when the aircraft is in a weight-on-wheels (WOW) condition by allowing the proximity switch on the aft landing gear to be bypassed. During normal operations, the NORMAL/BYPASS switch on landing gear bypass switch status panel is in the NORMAL position. During testing and maintenance, the switch is placed in the BYPASS position, which bypasses the proximity switch to enable the CMDS.

The CCU-136A/A impulse cartridge is a new expendable countermeasure impulse cartridge that is not susceptible to premature ignition or reduced reliability by the Electromagnetic Environment (EME) aboard ships. The CCU-136A/A incorporates Hazard from Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance (HERO) Safe features. All prior Airborne Expendable Countermeasure (ABN EXP C/M) impulse cartridges are HERO susceptible. The CCU-0136A/A impulse cartridge provides a near complete faraday cage around the firing circuit and a low-pass Radio-Frequency (RF) filter to eliminate HERO threats from EM radiation and RF energy passed along the DC firing circuit from the aircraft systems. HERO testing has been completed and resulted in a HERO Safe rating of the CCU-136A/A impulse cartridge in the AN/ALE-39 and AN/ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser systems. The CCU-136A/A has the same ballistic/ functional characteristics as that of the CCU-136/A and will replace CCU-41/B, CCU-63/B, CCU-136/A impulse cartridges. The CCU-136A/A will be used to dispense all current and future ABN EXP C/M, which are round form factor and the Fiber Optic Towed Decoy (FOTD).

The AN/ALE-47 Countermeasures Dispenser System (CMDS) is a joint program led by the U.S. Air Force. The AN/ALE-47 was developed as a replacement to the AN/ALE-39 CMDS but until the late 1990s funding to retrofit all Navy aircraft had not been a priority. The ALE-47 Retrofit is funded to begin in FY00. This initiative is based on Safety and Cost Reduction. The ALE-39 has recorded 141 Things Falling Off Aircraft (TFOA) incidents over the last 10 years and cost per flight hour for the ALE-39 is more than 3 times the cost of operating the ALE-47. Further, the ALE-47 reliability and maintainability are vastly improved over the ALE-39, which increases aircraft readiness. The retrofit of over 1375 systems began with the F-14B/D, EA-6B, and F/A-18C/D lots 12-17. Unfortunately, due to available budget the retrofit of Assault and Transport vehicles remained outside the bounds of the FYDP duringn the 1990s.

ALE-47 retrofit challenges for the new century are many. They begin with the requirement to complete this effort as a B-Kit only change while maintaining all current interfaces and functionality with other on-board systems, such as the BOL chaff dispenser on the F-14. The limited and unreliable ALE-39 operation is entrenched in the operator's mindset. Accepting the reliability of the ALE-47 to dispense what you want, when you want it and thus building confidence in the ALE-47 system will also remain a challenge. Finally, the ALE-47's "smart dispensing" capability must be fully exploited. Use of the ALE-47 smart dispensing capability not only gets the most bang for the buck, but moreover, smart dispensing will gain maximum survivability for the aircrew.

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