Northrop Grumman has completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of the US Army's common infrared countermeasure (CIRCM) programme.
Completed on schedule, the review provided the army with a system design that exceeds the programme's weight and electrical power requirements.
Marking the final design review of the programme's technology development (TD) phase, the review also offered army the data required for transitioning to the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase.
Northrop is developing eight CIRCM systems to protect helicopters against man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADS) and other heat-seeking weapons, as part of the $31.4m TD phase contract awarded in February 2012.
Northrop Grumman land and self protection systems division vice-president and general manager, Jeff Palombo, said the review presented detailed performance data from mature CIRCM systems, eventually demonstrating their ability to safeguard aircrews at an affordable cost.
"Our PDR date was established 14 months ago, and with close collaboration with the army, we executed on time with anticipated results,'' Palombo said.
''With our CIRCM system testing moving out smartly, we are well prepared to support our army customer with compliant EMD hardware and rapid production capability."
Manufactured in collaboration with industry partners, Selex Galileo and Daylight Solutions, Northrop's first CIRCM system was delivered to the army along with a complete hardware set in January this year.
CIRCM is a lightweight, low-cost, laser-based countermeasure system designed to work with missile warning systems to protect the US military's rotary wing, tilt-rotor and small fixed-wing platforms against both present and future infrared threats.
The army initially plans to equip around 1,076 helicopters, including the UH-60 Black Hawk, Apache, Chinook, C-20, V-22 Osprey, Super Cobra and Super Huey aircraft.
Valued at a minimum of $1.1bn, CIRCM programme cost is expected to rise to as much as $5bn if the navy and air force and allied militaries also decide to equip their helicopters with the systems.
Image: Northrop and US Army officials with the initial CIRCM hardware in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, US. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corp.