Army moves ahead with laser-based aircraft missile defense

March 31, 2015

Defense Systems:

The Army is getting ready to move to the next phase in the development of a lightweight, laser-based system for protecting helicopters and light aircraft from infrared-seeking missiles.

The Common Infrared Countermeasure, or CIRCM, is being designed to provide automated countermeasures primarily against man-portable air defense systems, which fire missiles from the ground and use infrared capability to guide those missiles, according to an Army release. CIRCM would be used on Army AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, as well as small tilt-rotor and fixed wing aircraft. The Navy, which is a partner in the project, plans to use the systems on the AH-1 Cobra and MV-22 Osprey, as well as, eventually, the CH-47 Chinook.

Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems have been developing CIRCM under competing technology development contracts first awarded in 2012.

The Army said CIRCM has passed Milestone A in its development and could later this year reach Milestone B, which involves building a system, testing it and achieving a pre-established level of readiness. With Milestone B, one of the two vendors will be chosen to move forward. Past that point is Milestone C, which will begin low-rate initial production of CIRCM. The Army and Navy expect to begin fielding CIRCM in fiscal 2019.

CIRCM is intended to replace older, heavier Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures systems with a lighter, modular system that would let CIRCM’s capability be easily swapped from one aircraft to another, depending on the mission, the Army said…

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