Army to move laser aircraft missile countermeasures for helicopters and slow aircraft to full-scale development
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 10 Nov. 2013. U.S. Army aviation experts have announced plans to move to full-scale development a laser-based missile-countermeasures system intended to defend helicopters, tiltrotor aircraft, and slow-moving fixed-wing aircraft from shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles.
Officials of the Army Contracting Command-Redstone at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., announced Monday they plan to award a two-year contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the laser-based Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM) system.
CIRCM is an Army program to develop a lightweight, low-cost, and modular laser-based infrared protection system for U.S. helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft. The technology primarily will provide defense against shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missiles, or MANPADS. The program is being developed to replace older suites such as the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures (ATIRCM).
Currently teams from the Northrop Grumman Corp. Electronic Systems segment in Rolling Meadows, Ill., and the BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment in Nashua, N.H., are developing CIRCM under terms of technology demonstration contracts.
The upcoming EMD contract will downselect the program to one of the two contractors. Industry teams from Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. also have been involved in competition to build CIRCM.
The CIRCM system on helicopters and slow-moving fixed-wing aircraft will detect incoming infrared-guided missiles and direct a laser beam to the missiles' infrared guidance systems to confused and disable the missile.
Infrared-guided missiles use heat-seeking sensors that target aircraft hot spots such as engine exhaust. Helicopters are particularly vulnerable to short-range ground-launched weapons such as shoulder-fired missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as machine gun and rifle fire.
The CIRCM system will provide a directional laser infrared countermeasure using modulating laser pulses to confuse missile guidance systems and cause them to miss their targets.
The winning contractor will provide an initial 1,076 systems to supply AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47, Chinook and future armed scout helicopters. Production is to begin as early as 2015 and deployment in 2017. The program is expected to be worth $1.5 billion to the winning contractor.
The Army presolicitation (W58RGZ14R0001) released this week revealed Army plans for 10 possible options to the winning CIRCM contractor, which if exercised could extend the EMD phase to four years. Options include follow-on aircraft integration such as the Army AH-64E attack helicopter; low-rate initial production (LRIP); and possible integration on U.S. Navy aircraft.
The EMD contract will ask the winning company to install CIRCM systems on the Army's UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter. One aim of the EMD phase is to develop manufacturable 120-pound CIRCM systems for small aircraft, and 155-pound systems for large aircraft.
The winning contractor will deliver eight CIRCM A-kits for testing and 21 production-quality CIRCM B-kits. The formal solicitation for the CIRCM EMD phase should be issued by the end of November, Army officials say.
For more information contact Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems online at www.northropgrumman.com, BAE Systems Electronic Systems at www.baesystems.com, or the Army Contracting Command-Redstone at www.garrison.redstone.army.mil.