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Industry News

Raytheon to Demonstrate Aircraft Protection System

December 6, 2006
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Raytheon Co. has been awarded a $4.1 M contract by the Department of Homeland Security, to demonstrate the suitability of its Vigilant Eagle Airport Protection System to function in a civilian environment and protect aircraft from the threat of shoulder-fired missiles.


Vigilant Eagle provides an invisible dome of protection around airports or airfields, offering all aircraft—international or domestic commercial flights as well as military and private planes—protection from terrorist surface-to-air missiles including Man-portable Air-defense System (MANPADS). Vigilant Eagle aims a focused, precisely steered beam of electromagnetic energy at a terrorist’s missile, diverting the threat away from the targeted aircraft. Because Vigilant Eagle is ground-based rather than installed on individual aircraft, it can protect all aircraft inside an airport area. Vigilant Eagle consists of three interconnected primary components: a distributed missile detect and track system, a command and control system, and the active electronically scanned array, which is a billboard-sized array of efficient antennas linked to solid-state amplifiers that provide the beam that diverts the missile.

“Raytheon’s Vigilant Eagle defeats man-portable missiles in seconds, without an alteration to or involvement by the aircraft using the airport,” said Mike Booen, vice president of Directed Energy Weapons at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ. “Not only has our Vigilant Eagle system proven effective, but it protects all aircraft using an airport and can be rapidly deployed at a reasonable cost.”

Ground-based Vigilant Eagle provides anti-MANPADS protection for a fraction of the cost of airborne systems being developed. Vigilant Eagle also has a far lower false alarm rate than other systems and uses proven, mature technologies.

Raytheon plans 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.

Raytheon’s airport security solutions also include a contract with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to provide a Perimeter Intrusion Detection System (PIDS) to safeguard the region’s four airports: John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, La Guardia and Teterboro. The Raytheon-led team will design, develop and deploy the security system; provide complete infrastructure development; integrate existing and future access controls and intrusion detection systems; and provide training and maintenance. PIDS is the first large scale, fully integrated design and built project at any major domestic airport.

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