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Leonardo DRS to provide advanced laser systems to protect military aircraft

12 Jun 2024

QCL-based infrared countermeasures destined for Northrop Grumman.

Defense systems developer Leonardo DRS has been awarded another full-rate production contract to supply its industry-leading quantum cascade laser technology to enable common infrared countermeasure (CIRCM) systems for critical military aircraft protection. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The award from fellow defense systems manufacturer Northrop Grumman continues the collaboration between the two companies on this QCL capability that provides advanced protection against missile threats to U.S. military aircraft.

CIRCM is a fifth-generation, laser-based infrared countermeasure system designed to track and defeat incoming missiles. At its core, the Leonardo QCL technology enables CIRCM to defeat incoming missiles with an unlimited number of rounds. Its reduced weight and increased power are specified to protect U.S. Army rotary-wing aircraft.

‘Major milestone’

Leonardo commented that CIRCM had recently reached a “major milestone of initial operational capability with U.S. Army aircraft, positioning the system for accelerated fielding on more than 1,500 helicopters.”

The QCLs are commercial off-the-shelf, lightweight, multi-wavelength laser systems. They are designed to enable new or upgraded capabilities in a range of other military uses. The technology is a core part of Leonardo’s capabilities that are aligned with some of the most critical programs of the U.S. Department of Defense, and allied nations.

Dr. Timothy Day, senior VP and general manager of the DRS Daylight Solutions business unit, commented, “Our ground-breaking quantum cascade laser technology represents the ultimate choice for aircraft survivability.

“As missile and other anti-aircraft threats continue to evolve and proliferate around the world, frontline helicopters will require capable systems like CIRCM to defeat these threats,” he said.

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