Army Aviation

Exelis and U.S. Army Aviation: A Legacy of Innovation

SPECIAL FOCUS – Industry Support and Challenges

By Mr. Rick L. Rife

1214 SF02 aExelis, previously the defense business segment of ITT Corporation, was launched in October 2011 as an independent company. Today, we remain a trusted partner with government, commercial and international customers, focusing on mission-critical C4ISR solutions that are affordable, platform-agnostic and designed to defeat threats now and into the future.

Much of our work with U.S. Army Aviation centers on electronic warfare (EW) and the Army’s need to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum and ensure aircraft survivability against a range of evolving threats. EW is an Exelis core capability – our systems operate on land, at sea and in the air, and help our forces, and those of our allies detect, deny, disrupt and degrade lethal threats.

For more than fifty years, our talented engineers have advanced this capability with a combination of ingenuity in solving hard problems and a relentless focus on understanding customer challenges.

Adapting to Change on Multiple Fronts

Today, integrated air defense system (IADS) sophistication and proliferation is accelerating at an unprecedented pace. Potential adversaries have studied our tactics, doctrine, and ongoing operations; they have adapted their systems accordingly, copied and improved upon our technologies and targeted our vulnerabilities. Radio frequency (RF)-guided surface-to-air missiles and search, tracking and acquisition radars are significantly more advanced than they were even a decade ago. In particular, modern IADS, such as those produced by Russia and used by dozens of militaries and paramilitaries in likely conflict zones around the world, are increasingly mobile, jam-resistant and designed specifically to target Army rotary wing aircraft.

Committed to Mission Success

To mitigate this growing threat, Exelis technologies like the ALQ-211 Suite Of Integrated Radio Frequency Countermeasures (SIRFC) provide a truly integrated approach to aircraft self-protection. SIRFC detects, denies, disrupts, degrades and evades modern threats, while also providing multi-spectral (RF, infrared and laser) situational awareness.

SIRFC also integrates with the Exelis Network Electronic Warfare Capability (NEWC). NEWC extends the capabilities of existing aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) by enabling the sharing of threat information across localized aircraft networks. The system allows each aircrew to receive and transmit aircraft survivability, situational awareness and threat information through a networked application, ensuring pilots, soldiers on the ground, and unmanned aerial system (UAS) operators share the same picture of the threat environment. Additionally, threat engagements are recorded for future missions to enable learning and adaptation to changing environments.

One of the major benefits of the network EW approach is that information on the EW situational environment can be shared with platforms that are size, weight and power (SWaP)-constrained. This way, even platforms without their own dedicated ASE can share the mission-enabling capabilities carried by other platforms in the network.

Proactivity is Key

Looking further ahead, we continue to invest in advanced research and development programs designed to ensure state-of-the-art threat analysis and countermeasure capabilities. Increasing threat sophistication is being met with multi-functionality and agile, software-definable solutions capable of switching between functions in real time to adapt to changing mission requirements. Programs such as the recently launched Disruptor SRx are focused on further SWaP reductions and open system architectures that are integrated with both ground and UAS to provide complete EW situational awareness and response options.
Exelis is proud of our longstanding partnership with Army Aviation and is committed to continuing to innovate cutting-edge systems that protect lives and aircraft and help save taxpayer dollars without sacrificing force readiness in the critical years ahead.

Mr. Rick Rife is Exelis, Inc. Vice President for Army and Special Programs located in Huntsville, AL.

Caption: A 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) MH-60 conducts rope-ladder extraction training. / EXELIS COURTESY PHOTO