19 Jul 2013
Ministry of Defence places substantial order to protect large aircraft.
US-based Northrop Grumman has won a five-year contract from the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to support its Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) systems, designed to protect aircraft from infrared surface-to-air guided missiles.
According to the details of the $120 million contract, Northrop Grumman will provide repair, engineering sustainment, logistics and training services to the MoD. The work will be performed at Northrop Grumman's specialist diagnostic and technical support centre in Chester, UK, as well as at its US repair facility in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
Carl Smith, the VP of infrared countermeasures at Northrop Grumman's “land and self-protection systems” division, said of the deal:
“We have been working in partnership with the UK MoD to give military aircrews protection from infrared-guided missiles. With this award, we continue that long-standing relationship and reaffirm our commitment to maintaining a world-class technical support capability in the UK."
The defense contractor says that its IRCM systems are now installed or scheduled for installation on more than 700 military aircraft to protect approximately 50 different types of large fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters from heat-seeking missile attacks.
IRCM systems work by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat, and activating a high-intensity, laser countermeasure system to track and defeat the missile.
However, the relative bulk of current IRCM systems means that they are restricted to deployment on larger aircraft types. Northrop is one of a handful of contractors working on a new, more compact, generation of the technology that will be suitable for smaller planes and helicopters.
Along with BAE Systems, Northrop was selected last year by the US Army to develop a common IRCM technology. On that contract, the company is working closely with quantum cascade laser (QCL) specialist Daylight Solutions and systems firm SELEX Galileo.
Northrop is also an investor in Daylight, and took a share in the San Diego company via a series C round of equity financing in July 2013.