Comet infrared countermeasure pod
The Air Force FY '03 Unfunded Priority List (UPL) calls for Comet infrared countermeasure pods for A-10s. The Comet pod is a concept development program at the Air Force's Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab, at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. It is designed to defeat man portable surface-to-air missile (MANPADS) systems and based on technology developed for a Raytheon towed infrared (IR) decoy system. The decoy had been tested by the Air Force in 2000 but is suited only for fast-moving jets that spend little time in the MANPADS threat envelope. The pod works much like the towed IR decoy, slowly dispensing pyrophoric material behind the jet to create a realistic engine-plume signature that can defeat IR guided missiles. However, it contains enough material to provide over 30 minutes of coverage. Such coverage is necessary for both the A-10 and O/A-10 aircraft because they spend considerable time in range of MANPADS.
Comet is an advanced infrared countermeasure suitable for front-line attack and transport aircraft, including the A-10 and C-130. An alternative to more expensive missile warning systems, Comet facilitates combat identification, engagement of multiple targets, and operations below cloud cover. It is entirely preemptive, with no cueing required.
Using technology derived from advanced special-material flares, the Comet is fully covert in the visible spectrum, creating a continuous false target that lures infrared threats away from the intended target. The Comet pod consists of six canisters containing enough infrared decoy material to provide aircraft protection of up to 30 minutes. A precision dispenser system meters the material directly into the airstream behind the aircraft. A simple drive system allows each canister to be driven individually or simultaneously. Thus, the dispense rate of the infrared material can be varied to fit the situational environment and the plume tailored to mimic the engine signature of virtually any aircraft.
Comet's inherent design simplicity minimizes maintenance and servicing. The payload cartridge is sealed and requires no maintenance. All six canisters can be loaded and ready for use in less than one minute. And, all components in the multi-platform dispenser controller can be serviced while the pod is on the aircraft.
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