The safety of military personnel is a key factor in international peacekeeping missions. In 2009, a programme was launched to improve the protection of European military aircraft.

Military personnel on active missions can protect themselves with flak jackets, armoured vehicles and other protective gear, but they also need protection against surface-to-air missiles, unguided projectiles and machinegun fire. In 2009, the European Defence Agency (EDA) initiated a programme to improve the protection of European military aircraft. Aircraft that are better protected can also be deployed more frequently. This calls for the development of protective systems that limit the enemy’s attack capabilities, thus reducing the vulnerability of our own aircraft.

After successfully completing the first project, the NLR-TNO consortium was also selected for a follow-up project in 2011, with NLR as consortium leader. The objective of this second project was to devise a methodology for providing investment decision support in procuring a package of protective measures. The methodology is based on ‘multi-criteria’ analysis, which takes into account effectiveness as well as costs and operational constraints. The project primarily focused on automatic weapons and ground-based threat systems like shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, also known as ‘man-portable air defence systems’ (MANPADS).

This methodology formed the basis for the development of an Investment Decision Support Tool (IDST) that guides users through the selection process in a well structured, traceable and transparent manner. The IDST criteria were elaborated during two workshops, which were attended by experts from various EDA countries. IDST was concurrently accredited, an essential step in establishing an EDA-wide support base for the tool.

Military aircraft need optimum protection against enemy attacks from the ground. But which protective measures are most effective?