The Nano SPEAR will keep civilian and supply planes safe from missiles

Diminutive and light, the Elbit Systems Nano SPEAR is specifically designed to keep civilian and supply planes safe from incoming missiles.
Christopher McFadden
3D rendering of the Nano SPEAR
3D rendering of the Nano SPEAR

Elbit Systems 

Elbit Systems unveiled what might be a revolutionary piece of equipment for commercial and larger non-combat aircraft at this year's Paris Air Show. Seemingly innocuous, the kit is a full disposable anti-radar decoy called the Nano Self Protection Electronic Attack and Reconnaissance (SPEAR).

Anti-aircraft missiles are evolving to be more innovative, agile, and equipped with advanced sensors. In response, engineers are also working hard to develop new countermeasures to defeat potential incoming missiles, with mixed success. In conflict areas, supply planes and even civilian passenger liners are often outfitted with defensive measures. These can be visually impressive, New Atlas explains, such as when a transport jet taking off from a field in anticipation of a missile attack releases a spray of flares, creating an eye-catching display resembling fireworks designed to attract and distract heat-seeking warheads.

It's designed to protect large aircraft from attack

Certain electronic countermeasures (ECM) remain undetectable to the naked eye. Ground, air, and missile-based radar pose a constant threat, so military aircraft are equipped with jamming devices as part of their ECM suite to prevent enemy radar from locking on.

Sometimes, the available suites may not be as comprehensive as desired, with room for improvement. Moreover, some aircraft don't have radar jammers as part of their gear, and some, especially small civilian craft, may not have any ECMs.

And this is where the Elbit Nano SPEAR comes into its own. As a member of the SPEAR family, it aims to fill the gaps in traditional ECMs and offer ECM shielding to aircraft vulnerable to targeting radar.

The SPEAR product family consists of three variations: Micro SPEAR for small installations, Light SPEAR for medium-large sized helicopters and UAVs, and the Advanced SPEAR ECM Pod contracted to provide active self-protection for the C-390 transport aircraft. These products are built on advanced modular hardware, including Digital Receiver Exciters, that offer scalability and easy integration.

The Nano SPEAR is tiny but potent

The Nano SPEAR is a compact and lightweight device weighing only 800 g (1.75 lb) and has a small metal box-like appearance with smooth edges and foldable airfoils at the back. Its size enables it to be easily placed in a countermeasures dispenser or thrown out of a window. Once activated, it employs advanced digital technology, including a digital RF memory device, an electronic warfare (EW) technique generator, and a top-notch receiver to deceive enemy missile systems. This gives the target more time to flee or launch a counterattack.

"We are proud to enable our customer's high-end protection capabilities to increase their platform survivability and aircrew safety," said Oren Sabag, General Manager of Elbit Systems ISTAR & EW. "We will continue to invest significant R&D efforts to supply the most advanced, cutting edge, and cost-effective solutions guaranteeing comprehensive protection and mission success."

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