The US Army has successfully completed another round of flight testing of Northrop Grumman‘s common infrared countermeasures (CIRCM) system on a UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter.
Undertaken at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, the trial demonstrated the system’s effectiveness under intense aircraft environments that included turns, banks, gunfire, flares, clutter, multiple shots, rotor blades and engine exhaust.
The six-week testing, which marks completion of the entire government-designed test plan, also demonstrated CIRCM’s performance capabilities against captive missile seekers.
Northrop Grumman, Land and Self Protection Systems Division vice-president and general manager Jeffrey Palombo said: "With each opportunity to prove its effectiveness, our CIRCM system has performed well.
"This flight test performance correlated extremely well with the results of our lab testing demonstration to show the maturity of our algorithms and software, which is something that many new programmes can struggle with.
"Drawing upon more than 1 million hours of laser-based directional infrared countermeasure system operation in theatre, plus 1,000 hours of instrumented CIRCM tests, allowed us to successfully handle the complex scenarios encountered during the flight testing phase of this programme."
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.
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 technology development phase contract awarded by the army in February 2012.
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.
Manufactured in collaboration with industry partners, Selex Galileo and Daylight Solutions, the first CIRCM system was delivered to the army along with a complete hardware set in January 2013.
Image: The CIRCM system is designed to protect helicopters against MANPADS and other heat-seeking weapons. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.