London, Jan 17 (ANI): British and American helicopters pilots on the frontline in Afghanistan are to get a new "super ears" device that helps them dodge enemy bullets that could save hundreds of troops' lives. Dozens of helicopters have been shot down by small arms fire in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the new Hostile Fire Indicator will be a major advance in protecting the aircraft.
Using noise reduction systems and special acoustic and direction finding equipment the HFI senses muzzle flashes for machine gun fire and possibly rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and computes the bearing the threat has come from, The Telegraph reported.
A cockpit display gives the pilot the enemy's precise location allowing him either to take evasive action or to return fire.
With 40 per cent of US helicopters falling victim to RPGs and 20 per cent to small arms fire there has been an urgent need for a new defensive system.
BAe Systems, who have ploughed millions into developing the technology, told the paper that in a dozen live firing tests where they fired more than a thousand rounds at a helicopter the HFI worked with 100 per cent accuracy.
The system is expected to be rushed into service on operations with both British and American helicopters having it installed later this year.
Technicians believe the technology closes the final chink in the armour against hostile ground fire.
All helicopters are equipped with Defensive Aids Suites that can counter nearly all surface-to-air missiles and have been called the "unsung heroes" of the current conflicts.
The systems have missile warning receivers, infrared jammers and decoy flares but unguided rounds from machine guns or RPGs are difficult to evade and impossible to jam.
Insurgents have realised that their missiles are generally ineffective and have turned more to using simple but effective systems.
"The Hostile Fire Indicator will protect our helicopters so that they can focus on missions and it will also raise people's battlefield awareness," said Bill Ashe, Program Manager at BAE Systems' Survivability and Protection Systems business.
He added there was a "very, very urgent need" for the technology that would only take up to two hours to install at "low cost, low impact". (ANI)