Navy asks Northrop Grumman to provide LAIRCM laser missile defense for U.S. military large aircraft
PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Missile-defense experts at Northrop Grumman Corp. will install LAIRCM laser-based missile-defense systems for large military aircraft under terms of a $132.3 million U.S. Navy order announced last week.
Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking engineers at the Northrop Grumman Mission Systems segment in Rolling Meadows, Ill., to provide the electro-optical Large Aircraft Infrared Counter Measures (LAIRCM) for a variety of U.S. military aircraft.
LAIRCM automatically detects a missile launch, determines if it is a threat, and activates a high-intensity laser-based countermeasure system to track and defeat the missile, Northrop Grumman officials say.
The system is for large aircraft like the U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol jet and the Marine Corps CH-53 Super Stallion large helicopter. LAIRCM also can go aboard the U.S. Air Force C-5, C-17, C-37, and C-40 cargo and utility jets; C-130H and MC-130W four-engine utility turboprop aircraft, the CV-22 tiltrotor aircraft, and the KC-46 aerial refueling jet.
This contract procures hardware and systems engineering to integrate the LAIRCM system onto aircraft for the Navy, U.S. Army, and the governments of the United Kingdom and Norway.
Hardware for this procurement includes 283 advanced threat warning sensors; 79 control indicator unit replaceables; signal processors; 120 infrared missile warning sensors; 91 Guardian laser transmitter assemblies (GLTAs); 13 multi-role electro-optical end-to-end test sets; 190 GLTA shipping containers; 46 high-capacity cards; 10 LAIRCM signal processor replacements smart connector assemblies; and 123 personal computer memory card international association cards.
LAIRCM focuses its high-intensity laser energy at the infrared seeker head of incoming missiles to blind the missile and force it off its target. The system is designed to protect large aircraft from shoulder-fired, vehicle-launched, and other infrared-guided missiles when the planes are operating close to the ground, such as during takeoffs, landings, and low-level operations like aerial refueling.
Initial LAIRCM systems equipped C-17 and C-130 aircraft as a stop-gap measure, using an ultraviolet sensor, a countermeasure processor, and a small laser turret assembly.
Later-model LAIRCM systems use a smaller laser turret, and operate in the infrared region. Compared to first-phase LAIRCM systems, the newer models provide better resolution, better performance in optical clutter, and increased range of detection.
In the future military leaders are trying to develop aircraft-protection infrared countermeasures able to detect and classify incoming missiles, then emit a custom jamming energy to defeat them.
On this order Northrop Grumman will do the work in Rolling Meadows, Ill.; Goleta, Calif.; Longmont, Colo.; Colombia, Md.; and at various locations within and outside of the continental U.S., and should be finished by June 2021.
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