Navy orders laser-based missile warning system from Leonardo DRS for electro-optical helicopter defense

June 17, 2020
The DAIRCM is a suite of missile warning, laser warning, hostile fire indicator, and infrared countermeasures to detect and defeat infrared missiles.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Airborne missile warning experts at Leonardo DRS in Melbourne, Fla., will provide the U.S. Navy with engineering models of the AN/AAQ-45 Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure (DAIRCM) system under terms of a $120 million contract announced last week.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., will provide non-recurring engineering to design, develop, integrate, and test engineering development models and production-representative models of weapons replaceable assemblies for the AN/AAQ-45.

The DAIRCM is for helicopters and other aircraft to defeat vehicle-launched infrared-guided missiles and man-portable air-defense systems. It also can detect laser-guided threats and hostile fire near helicopters.

Navy aviation experts have tested the DAIRCM on the Sikorsky MH-60S utility helicopter and U.S. Marine Corps Bell AH-1Z attack helicopter. The system is an integrated suite of missile warning, laser warning, hostile fire indicator, and infrared countermeasures to protect helicopters from infrared missiles.

Related: Navy asks Northrop Grumman to provide LAIRCM laser-based missile-defense systems for large aircraft

The system uses one centrally installed laser that feeds all of the beam directors. The threat warning sensor sends raw video and digital data information to the processor, which analyzes the data for an incoming missile, laser, or hostile fire threat.

If the processor detects a threat, it notifies the aircrew through the control interface unit and initiates the laser to direct electro-optical jamming energy at the incoming missile.

Helicopters equipped with the DAIRCM typically perform medium-lift logistical support, medical evacuation, search and rescue, armed escort, and attack operations.

Related: Electro-optical sensors key to missile defense

The U.S. Air Force has demonstrated the AN/AAQ-45 DAIRCM aboard HH-60G Pave Hawk combat rescue helicopters in response to a joint urgent operational needs statement.

On this contract Leonardo DRS will do the work in Dallas; San Diego; Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; and Melbourne, Fla., and should be finished by June 2024.

For more information contact Leonardo DRS online at, or Naval Air Systems Command at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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