MANPADs present a tremendous threat to both civilian and military aircraft. An estimated 700,000 MANPADs are built and sold across the globe, thousands of which are unaccounted for and sold daily on the black market. Raytheon's Vigilant Eagle has been tested and proven effective against actual MANPADs. With this innovative system, Raytheon can counter this very real and serious threat and help make air travel safer for everyone.
On June 14, 2005 Raytheon Company announced a new, affordable ground-based airport protection system that uses high power microwave technology to protect commercial aircraft from shoulder-fired missiles. Known as Vigilant Eagle, the airfield-based directed electromagnetic energy system protects the flying public against the threat of surface-to-air missiles including MANPADS (Manportable Air Defense System).
Unlike other anti-MANPAD technologies developed by Raytheon's competitors, which require onboard installation, Vigilant Eagle offers a superior and more affordable ground-based system that can be installed at individual airports. Vigilant Eagle can provide customers with a savings factor of 10 to 18 times the price of aircraft-borne systems, which have high installation, operating and support costs.
As originally described in 2005, it consisted of three interconnected primary components: a distributed Missile Warning System (MWS), a command and control computer, and the High-power Amplifier-Transmitter (HAT), which consists of a billboard- sized electronically steered array of highly efficient antennas linked to solid state amplifiers. The MWS is a pre-positioned grid of passive infrared sensors, mounted on cell phone towers or buildings to cover the required detection space. Each missile detection is confirmed by at least two sensors in an overlapping grid, yielding an extremely low false alarm rate. The command and control computer provides pointing commands to the HAT and also connects to the airport security interface. The command and control computer capability includes determination of the launch point to notify security forces, enabling capture of the terrorists who fired the missile. The HAT radiates a tailored electromagnetic waveform to disrupt the missile and deflect it away from the aircraft. Created electromagnetic fields are well within OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards for personnel exposure limits. On 23 October 2006 Raytheon Company was awarded a $4.1 million contract, with a priced option for an additional $1.2 million, by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to demonstrate the suitability of its Vigilant Eagle Airport Protection System to function in a civilian environment and its ability to protect aircraft from the threat of shoulder-fired missiles. Raytheon planne to conduct validation activities and implement a unique interoperability test bed at a site determined by DHS to provide data for DHS's assessment of Vigilant Eagle's capability to defeat MANPADS. The test bed is an initial step to implementing counter-MANPADS to protect flights at airports.
In 2006, Vigilant Eagle was described as a ground-based system that protects civilian and military airports from man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs), also known as shoulder-fired missiles, with three integrated components: a distributed missile detect and track subsystem (MDT), a command and control (C2) system and an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), which consists of a billboard-size array of highly efficient antennas linked to solid-state amplifiers.
The MDT consists of a pre-positioned grid of passive infrared sensors mounted on nearby cell phone towers or buildings with communication lines to the C2. These sensors identify and track missile threats, forming a dome of security over the airport. The AESA radiates a precisely aimed small diameter beam on the missile. This beam is a tailored electromagnetic waveform designed to interfere with the missile's guidance circuitry, deflecting it away from the aircraft.
Located on the airport's premises, the C2 provides pointing commands to the AESA and rejects false alarms and connects to the airport's security interface. The C2 has the added advantage of being able to determine the missile's launch point, enabling security forces to apprehend the enemy.
Upon receiving pointing commands from the C2, the AESA radiates a tailored electromagnetic waveform to interfere with the MANPADS guidance system and deflect it away from the aircraft. The effectiveness of the Vigilant Eagle waveforms has been demonstrated in field tests to be highly effective in defeating MANPADS missiles. Transmitted electromagnetic fields are well within Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards for human exposure limits and Federal Aviation Administration standards (SAE ARP 5583, Guide to Certification of Aircraft in a High-Intensity Radiated Field Environment) for interference with aircraft electronic systems.
Vigilant Eagle's operational concept ensures an affordable and cost effective addition to a MANPADS layered protection approach when combined with a limited number of commercial and general aviation onboard protection systems. Installation of Vigilant Eagle at the 35 airports specified in the FAA Operational Evaluation Plan provides coverage for 72 percent of all takeoffs and landings within the United States and over 85 percent of the overseas arrivals and departures. As compared with on-aircraft protection for commercial airlines, Vigilant Eagle is at least six times more cost effective to procure and 30 times more cost effective over a 20 year life cycle, because of the significant logistics tail required for onboard systems. In addition, Vigilant Eagle requires no aircraft modifications.
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