Northrop Grumman Systems is being awarded an order in support of the upgrade of the AN/AAQ-24 large aircraft infrared counter-measure (LAIRCM) system.
The cost-plus-fixed-fee order, valued at around $33 million, was awarded against a previously issued basic ordering agreement by the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) located in Patuxent River, Maryland.
This order provides for non-recurring engineering required to upgrade the current Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures System Processor Replacement to resolve Department of Navy -2103 Processor Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortage issues and provide growth capability on the AN/AAQ-24 system.
Work will be performed in Rolling Meadows, Illinois (93 percent); and Middletown, Wisconsin (7 percent), and is expected to be completed in June 2020.
The AN/AAQ-24 system is a directional infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) system to protect aircraft from infrared (IR) homing (“heat seeking”) man-portable missiles.
DIRCM is a lightweight, compact system designed to provide mission-vulnerable aircraft with increased protection from common battlefield threats. It is more advanced than conventional infrared countermeasures.
The system uses an active method of jamming of infrared missile seekers through the sensor aperture. The system can be placed in either active or standby mode. In the standby mode the aircrew must select the active mode to begin jamming IR threats. The pulsing flashes of IR energy confuse the missile guidance system.
AN/AAQ-24 consists of a missile warning system (AN/AAR-54), an integration unit, a processor, and laser turrets (Small Laser Transmitter Assembly, SLTA). Early versions used an arc lamp to generate the jamming signal.
Newer versions produced by Northrop Grumman use diode-based pump systems are known by the GUARDIAN name, and could be fitted to many commercial carriers in the near future pending the completion of many tests on the viability of such options.
It will be installed on C-17 Globemaster III, MC-130, CV-22 Osprey, and the CH-53E Super Stallion. The system is also the basis for the Northrop Grumman Guardian system marketed for commercial aircraft.
LAIRCM-Lite is a C-17 program that uses a combination of laser jammers and flares due to the limited availability of LAIRCM components.