Thales UK has signed a new research contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the development of new equipment designed to protect aircraft and aircrew against a wide range of anti-air threats.

The new £24.5m jointly funded contract is based on previous research work conducted by Thales in collaboration with the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), for the development of an infrared (IR) warning system that would enable the deployment of appropriate countermeasures against missiles, gun fire and other threats.

Under the terms of the new contract, Thales will develop and deliver a new technology demonstrator to the MoD in 2015 which will prove the system’s capability in accurately identifying and declaring threats in complex environments.

Thales UK land defence business head Alex Cresswell said the contract award reflects the MoD’s recognition of the extensive work already carried out by the company in the field.

”It demonstrates the MOD’s confidence in Thales’s ability to deliver such a capability and we look forward to deploying it successfully into service with the UK and its close allies,” Cresswell added.

The demonstrator will be equipped with up to six single colour IR sensors to provide the aircrew with enhanced situational awareness, by generating full coverage of the volume around the aircraft.

Using algorithms on a central processor, the system can also be configured to incorporate data recording capability, to help support effective mission planning and post mission replay tasks.

The system’s performance under representative conditions will be evaluated at each developmental step by the Dstl in a series of ground and flight trials, while the programme will be managed by the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Air Technology Delivery organisation.