Chaffs and flares: Passive countermeasures to thwart missile attacks

A passive countermeasure system against incoming anti-aircraft missiles forms an important and effective part in an aircraft’s arsenal. Similarly, warships to carry these last-minute support self-defence systems onboard as a standard fit.

These systems are also categorized in Electronic Warfare terms as expendable ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) to protect the platform. When Chaff and Flares are launched from the onboard Counter Measure Dispensing System (CMDS), these degrade the performance characteristics of adversaries weapon system and help safeguard own platform.

Indigenization Effort of CMDS 

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has taken up the task of indigenous development of chaff cartridges to bridge the technology gap in this field and evolve an import substitute for Defence. This becomes a critical requirement since Chaff is one of the most widely used expendable electronic countermeasure devices.

A need for more than hundred thousand Chaffs and flares exists in next five years, making indigenization an important factor. DRDO has reported that the checks and trials of indigenously developed Chaff cartridge system have been undertaken onboard a fighter jet by Indian Air Force’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in 2018.

These checks include safe ejection of chaff from indigenous Chaff cartridge, envelope clearance trials in sub-sonic, super-sonic range and manoeuvrability test. Further checks are in progress in various configuration like Nose-on, sideways (beamforming) and tail-on configurations. For the airborne CMDS Bharat Dynamics Ltd.

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