Orbital ATK has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the Helicopter Active Protection System (HAPS), a system to protect helicopters against airborne threats.
This represents the first patent awarded to Orbital ATK for its development of methods and systems of active protection from aerial threats by dispensing a kill vehicle from either aerial or ground platforms, the company said in a press release Thursday.
The kill vehicle is the key component in HAPS. Orbital ATK recently performed a live-fire demonstration validating the basis of the invention including the performance of its kill vehicle’s ability to launch, perform pitch maneuvers and fly to a detonation point that simulated the location of an incoming rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).
“Orbital ATK is dedicated to maturing the development of this first-of-a-kind active protection system for helicopters and to put it into the hands of our armed forces,” said Cary Ralston, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Defense Electronic Systems division of the Defense Systems Group.
This newly-patented innovation has a direct benefit to helicopters and their crew members. Helicopters are vulnerable to damage from RPGs because the aircraft often hovers in position at low altitude, making it easy to target by an enemy on the ground. Orbital ATK’s HAPS system is designed to identify an incoming threat, launch and guide a kill vehicle to a precise location and detonate a warhead at a point where the RPG is rendered ineffective.
All of this is designed to occur within a fraction of a second and far enough away from the helicopter to ensure the crew and aircraft are not harmed by fragments from the destroyed RPG. The system also serves as a last line of defense against advanced man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS.