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INDRA to equip Spanish NH-90 helicopters with advanced electronic defense systems


According to a press release published on December 21, 2020, Spanish company Indra, one of the main global technology and consulting companies, has signed a contract with the Spanish Ministry of Defence to equip 23 NH90 helicopters with the most advanced electronic defense systems, essential to reinforce the security of the aircraft and its crew in the area of operations.

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INDRA to equip Spanish NH 90 helicopters with advanced electronic defense systems 925 001 Spanish NH-90 helicopter. (Picture source Twiter account Anthony Pecchi)


The amount of the contract amounts to 111 million euros, will have a duration of 7 years and provides for scope extensions up to a total of 135 million euros approved by the Council of Ministers. In 2007, Spanish Spanish government signed a contract for 45 NH90 in their tactical transport version (TTH) to equip its Armed Forces. The NH90 was developed by Europe’s NHIndustries partnership (Airbus Helicopters, Leonardo Helicopters, and Fokker Aerostructures) – was designed to meet NATO’s requirement for a modern medium-sized multi-role military helicopter for both land and maritime operations.

The NH90 featured an advanced composite airframe, designed for ballistic tolerance, a high level of crashworthiness, lower weight, and 30 per cent greater endurance than a metallic counterpart. The four main rotor blades are also composed of composite materials, increasing fatigue strength and lifespan while providing for greater damage tolerance. The unobstructed main cabin area is entered either by large sliding doors on either side of the fuselage or via a rear ramp, the cabin is designed to accommodate modular equipment packages to enable the rotorcraft to be rapidly reconfigured, providing for operational flexibility. In a troop-transport capacity, the cabin can accommodate up to 20 fully equipped soldiers or up to 12 stretchers in a medical evacuation role, some light vehicles may also be transported; the main cabin is equipped with environmental control systems and sound proofing measures to improve passenger conditions.

Indra will equip the GSPA and MSPT versions of this helicopter that will be used by the Spanish Army, Air Force and Navy, with a complete self-protection suite. The most innovative elements will include the Enhanced Suite Controller (EW Manager), a Next Generation Full Digital Radar Warning Receiver (RWR ALR-400FD) and a DIRCMInShield Directed Infrared Countermeasure system.

Indra will also integrate and supply all the other elements of the electronic defence suite, including missile alert sensors (MWS), laser alert (LWS) and the chaff and flare dispenser system (CMDS) that serve as decoys to circumvent attacks, as well as associated ground support and test equipment.

The helicopters' ability to fly at low speeds and height and to land virtually anywhere gives them their main operational advantage, but also makes them especially vulnerable to attack. At the same time, threats have grown in sophistication and are now much more effective and difficult to detect.

Radar-guided missiles, for example, use frequency-hopping techniques to conceal themselves while some manpad missile launchers, a cheap and easily available weapon on the black market, employ projectiles with highly sophisticated guidance systems.

To face this challenge, Indra will develop an advanced full band warning receiver, with the ability to instantly monitor the entire electromagnetic spectrum, instead of covering different bands through partial band scanning strategies as was customary until now.

To carry out this task, Indra will provide the system with a capacity for direct and instantaneous digitization of the electromagnetic spectrum that will allow it to analyze all signals at an enormous speed and coordinate the rest of the detection and countermeasure elements. In this way, Indra's alert system will detect threats with an unprecedented level of reliability and immunity against disturbances in order to neutralize them.

Indra'sInShield Directed Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) system will blind the thermal guidance system of missiles launched from the ground with a beam of laser energy directed automatically, effectively and safely.