Orbital ATK has conducted a live-fire demonstration of a kill vehicle (KV) of its helicopter active protection system (HAPS).

During the trial, held in Socorro, New Mexico, US, the HAPS KV was able to launch, perform pitch manoeuvres and fly to a detonation point that simulated the location of an incoming rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).

It was undertaken to prove-out launch from a fixed ALE-47 countermeasures dispense system, off-axis pitch manoeuvres of the KV and controlled flight of the KV to an impact point.

"The HAPS is designed to identify an incoming threat and launch and guide a KV to an accurate location."

In addition, it evaluated several HAPS components, including the KV launch cartridge, KV divert and attitude thrusters, non-linear guidance and control algorithms, as well as the fast-sync wireless command guidance link.

Orbital ATK Defense Systems Group Defense Electronic Systems division vice-president and general manager Bill Kasting said: "Orbital ATK is dedicated to working with our customers to further develop this first-of-a-kind active protection system for helicopters and put it into the hands of our armed forces.

"Our design uses the helicopter’s existing fixed countermeasures dispense system to launch the KV, allowing HAPS to meet the performance goals and the size, weight and power constraints."

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Orbital ATK Defense Systems Group executive vice-president and president Mike Kahn said: "Our aircraft protection systems demonstrate a commitment to protecting the warfighter.

"We took an innovative approach to meet operational needs that can make a real difference in the level of safety for helicopters and their crews."

Comprising an engagement management module and a modified countermeasures dispense system, the HAPS is designed to identify an incoming threat and launch and guide a KV to an accurate location and detonate a warhead at a point where the RPG is rendered ineffective.

All actions occur within a fraction of a second and far enough away from the helicopter to ensure that metal fragments from the destroyed RPG do not cause any harm to the platform and its crew.

In addition, the system can serve as a last line of defence against advanced man-portable air-defence systems.