An in-depth look at military aircraft countermeasures

Military aircraft are facing heightened levels of danger as the proliferation of anti-air systems gathers pace. Tim Fish reports on the countermeasures put in place by manufacturers

Threats posed by anti-air systems on military aircraft can be put broadly into two categories, based on the kind of targeting sensor fitted into the missiles. These are either missiles that are radar-guided using Radio Frequency (RF) signals to home in on the aircraft, or missiles that employ infrared (IR) sensors (heat-seekers) to detect the temperature of an aircraft’s engine.

The RF and IR-guided missiles can be long-range, capable of reaching high altitudes fired by integrated air defence systems fielded by a country’s military,or shorter-range missiles fired from man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) that can also be acquired relatively cheaply by non-state organisations. The latter is considered a lower-level capability in terms of altitude and range, but MANPADS are becoming smarter, making the asymmetric threat more advanced.

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