Northrop Grumman has announced the start of initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of its Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM) system for the US Army’s helicopter fleet.
The CIRCM system is intended to offer protection to US Army aircraft against current and emerging infrared-guided missile threats, including shoulder-fired, vehicle-launched, and other infrared missiles. It is currently in low-rate initial production (LRIP).
The countermeasure system employs laser energy and can be integrated with systems and sensors to meet specific requirements.
Northrop Grumman land and avionics C4ISR vice-president Bob Gough said: “Exercising our production systems in operational testing will further validate CIRCM’s advanced performance, and is a key enabler on the path to full-rate production and wide deployment of this life-saving system to our warfighters.”
The company’s infrared countermeasures systems are designed for use on large and small fixed-wing, rotary-wing and tilt-rotor platforms.
So far, these systems have been integrated into more than 1,500 aircraft.
The system comprises of a compact pointer / tracker, COTS processor and advanced Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology.
The Department of Defense Milestone Decision Authority awarded Milestone C for the CIRCM system in September last year.
Prior to the milestone, the system underwent laboratory, flight and free flight missile testing to validate its capabilities to protect aircrews in realistic combat scenarios.
Earlier this month, the army awarded a potential $482m contract to Northrop Grumman for CIRCM systems and support services.
In addition to expanding production, the contract programme includes logistics support infrastructure.
The award requires the company to provide Quick Reaction Capability 3 of the CIRCM.
During the company’s fourth-quarter 2018 earnings call, Northrop Grumman president and CEO Kathy Warden said the company expects the US Army to order more than 1,500 CIRCM systems.