Army awards contracts for helicopters’ anti-missile defense
The Army has awarded Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems contracts for limited-scope services for research, development and evaluation for its Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM) program, which is currently in its technology demonstrator phase.
Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems were awarded $10 million and $8 million deals, respectively. Work for the contracts is expected to be completed on March 14, 2015.
The program is looking to develop an active infrared laser-based countermeasure to protect U.S. military helicopters and aircraft from IR guided missiles such as man portable air defense systems, according to the Army.
CIRCM is designed to track incoming missiles and fire a multiband heat laser to intercept and jam the missile, according to an Army release. Comprising a pointer and tracker unit, IR laser and system processor, the new system will be incorporated with a missile warning system and an Improved Countermeasure Dispenser.
CIRCM is expected to replace older and heavier systems like the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures, and is intended to be a lightweight, modular and low-cost solution, allowing it to be equipped across more platforms than its predecessors. Possible platforms for CIRCM include Apaches, Chinooks, Black Hawks and their variants.
Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems were awarded 21 month-long Army contracts to produce competing technology demonstrators for the CICRM program back in 2012, after beating out competitors ITT Exelis, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.
The Army’s decision on the modifications are the result of additional development and testing requirements for the technology demonstrators. The modifications include services for continued software development and design, as well as Guided Weapons Evaluation Facility testing, Laser Integration Test and Evaluation Lab testing, developmental testing, accelerated life test, pallet testing, and reliability characterization testing. The modification also supports engineering support for development of the AH-64E Apache kit and the development of a final Anti-Tamper plan.
The CIRCM program is expected to release a request for proposals for the next step of the program, during which the Army will select one of the demonstrators to enter the engineering, manufacturing and development phase. The winner of that phase could gain access to up to $1.5 billion to produce the systems, reports AIN Online.
Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.