HYBRID WARFARE – THE NEW THREAT
By Julian Nettlefold
30 Apr 09. FLIR Systems opened its newly-expanded service centre in West Malling, Kent, UK on Thursday, April 30.
Andrew Phillips, FLIR Systems Inc. Vice President Europe business development & general manager UK introduced Rear Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, Commander Joint Helicopter Command, who formally opened the facility.
Rear Admiral Johnstone-Burt gave a fascinating outline to the new threat ‘The Hybrid Warfare’ concept which has been highlighted by Frank Hoffman and the vital contribution given by helicopters fitted with night vision equipment.
“The Hybrid Warrior is epitomised by the Taleban, ‘Microsoft meets machete.’” Rear Admiral Johnstone-Burt said. “The Taleban are well supported financially which enables them to buy the latest IT equipment and operate from their caves in their tribal gear in the morning, communicating across their territory to their troops and in the afternoon indulge in medieval warfare. We have come to analyse various ‘honeypot’ lures where the Taleban bring injured children to be picked up by helicopter only to have that helicopter ambushed on landing. We had a near miss with a Chinook recently.”
“Helicopter movements are vital to the tempo of warfare in Afghanistan. FLIR equipment is fundamental to the performance of our helicopters in Afghanistan,” He said. “FLIR Systems has helped us to get to places we couldn’t get to before and has been a lifesaver in many circumstances. I was maxed out in a Merlin which suffered partial hydraulic failure, if it wasn’t for my FLIR equipment, I would not be here now.”
Dave Strong, Vice President of Marketing for FLIR Systems’ government systems division then gave an update to the Press. We give his responses to a number of questions from journalists below.
“This new facility which we have invested over $1-million, is a fundamental development for FLIR Inc. that enables us to support all our customers in the U.K. and Europe be they military, Police or civil. We have 500 systems in Europe with a significant proportion in the U.K. ranging from the older Ultra 4000 models to the Sea Flir and latest Star SAFIRE HD.”
“Our systems on the Royal Navy Sea Kings have a 99.5% operational availability, which puts us in the forefront of systems for the forthcoming UK SAR Requirement. We are not exclusively teamed with either Sikorsky for their S-92 or Eurocopter for the EC-225. However we are already on the Canadian S-92 helicopter and on EC-225 in a number of countries. We have systems on a total of 100 different aircraft types.”
“How many systems do you have in Iraq and Afghanistan?”
“We have hundreds of systems deployed on the U.S. Army’s RAID Programme including on Aerostats and fixed installations, as well as on the US Army’s HH-60 CSAR aircraft.”
“How have these systems performed in these extreme temperatures?”
“At first, given the challenging environment, we had a few failures back in 2003, but following extreme temperature testing we repaired and requalified the systems and retrofitted new systems with better temperature resistant technology. We have a number of systems on the HH-60 Blackhawk Medevac helicopters which can’t fly at night without our equipment. All the equipment is supported through our Dubai Free Zone facility which allows free movement of equipments between countries. We are also supplying the UK’s new former Danish Merlin fleet with Star SAFIRE IIIs sensors. With the growing pirate threat, the Royal Danish Navy is using our Star class systems on the HDMS Absalon currently on patrol in the Gulf of Aden. Other nations who use our systems—Spain, Italy among others—also have a presence there.”
“Has your HISS sniper scope been made available outside the US?”
“Yes, we have had considerable interest in HISS outside the U.S. and it is available to NATO customers. We have also developed the ATWS in partnership with Trijicon. ATWS is designed to interfac