Commercial aircraft are a target of terrorists because they represent one of the best achievements of our society: an attack has a big psychological impact on population, and thus economical activity. If a multiple attack like the ones of Madrid railways were to occur in several airports spread over the globe, economy would be severely weakened.
This effect would be reinforced if terrorists underlined that after Madrid occurred London. Besides the 11th of September twin towers type of event exists another threat: 15000 disseminated shoulders launched IR guided missiles (MANPADS), which are in uncontrolled hands. Several attacks already occurred and evidence of trafficking has been reported. US is preparing some regulation to force commercial aircraft to be equipped with onboard protection systems.
It is vital for Europe from a security and an economical point of view to be able to answer this requirement. Future protection systems must be competitive, that is low cost and minimal perturbation on the aircraft (low mass, low-consumption, low drag). A protection system is made of a missile detector and of deceiving equipment. CASAM concentrates research on the second: an innovated Directive InfraRed Countermeasure (DIRCM) equipment which represents the most expensive and heavy part of a global defence system.
It will be specifically designed for commercial aircraft, bringing minimum perturbation on the aircraft and the airport environment. Through a two years project, CASAM explores several technological breakthroughs in laser, optics, electro-mechanics and processing that will be the core of the future competitive equipment. A technical validation prototype will be tested against actual seeker heard. Specific effort will be put on threat analysis and simulation, economical analysis, aircraft installation constraints and impact. A specific study will be carried out on legal and regulation issues, which have a prominent position in the roadmap.
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