'Smart Chaff' Being Developed to Thwart Surface-to-Air Missiles

By Wagner, Breanne | National Defense, March 2008 | Go to article overview
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'Smart Chaff' Being Developed to Thwart Surface-to-Air Missiles


Wagner, Breanne, National Defense


HAIFA, Israel -- Engineers at Israel's Technion University are developing tiny, electrically conductive fibers that could someday be used to defend aircraft from missile attacks.

The Russell Berrie Institute for Research in Nanotechnology at Technion is working on nanostructures that would act as a near invisible decoy, diverting a missile away from an aircraft, says Technion researcher Aaron Gassman.

"We are interested to find out how nanofiber properties can be tailored in order to protect airplanes," Gassman tells National Defense.

The nanostructures being developed here will be used to deter radar-guided missiles that go after the electrical components of an aircraft.

The technology will not be used to deter heat seeking systems, which chase after airplane emissions, Gassman explains.

The technology is being developed for the Israeli air force.

The air force currently uses small fiberglass materials as "chaff" to deter an enemy's radar system, he explains during a tour of his lab. The electrically charged fiberglass pieces are fired from the aircraft and swamp enemy radar with multiple readings. Chaff was used in World War II to confuse enemy radar.

Chaff is named after a plant's pollen or seeds that blow in the wind, Gassman says, because it is meant to replicate that concept.

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'Smart Chaff' Being Developed to Thwart Surface-to-Air Missiles
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