The US Air Force (USAF) completed operational testing of Deployable Instrument Landing System (D-ILS) technology from Thales at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida in mid-October.
A USAF spokesperson told Jane’s it is now ready to issue a production order for a total of 30 systems, following several months of review activity by USAF airfield technicians.
Thales delivered two D-ILS units under a USAF contract issued in 2015 to supply Production Representative Units (RPUs), training, and contractor support, to replace USAF legacy precision approach radar systems. The second unit was used for transportability tests in challenging terrain. Thales is preparing to deliver another D-ILS in January 2018 under a USAF contract awarded in November 2016 for three production-ready systems.
The D-ILS is a commercial off-the-shelf system based on the Thales fixed-base, dual-frequency ILS 420. It is designed to be used for precision approach and landing by all ILS-equipped military and commercial aircraft operating at tactical airfields and in response to natural disasters, increasing safety and capacity at D‐ILS airfields. The Italian subsidiary of Thales has supplied similar systems to its Ministry of Defence.
The USAF used the operational tests to standardise the setup checklists its airmen will consult when installing D‐ILS. It takes three airmen approximately five to six days to set up. The system is delivered in two shipping containers, which contain the localiser antenna array and glideslope mast equipment. Two electronics shelters generate the ILS signal in space, to broadcast precision guidance to landing aircraft.
Thales operates a dedicated production line at its Clarksburg factory in Maryland, where it expects to manufacture up to one ILS a month once the USAF issues a production order.