Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Northrop Grumman has completed a second series of live-fire tests of its AAQ-24(V) directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system, paving the way for a US Air Force decision on production for special-operations Lockheed Martin C-130s.

The company has also demonstrated an upgrade to the system, which replaces the xenon lamp jamming source with a solid-state laser and expands the range of infrared-guided missiles that can be countered by the AAQ-24(V).

The DIRCM is in production for the Royal Air Force, following tests in the UK last year using a Westland Sea King helicopter. The latest trials in the USA included flight tests on a C-130 and the live-fire tests, which emulated different helicopter and transport installations. Results are still being analysed, the company says.

For tests of the laser-based DIRCM, an AAQ-24(V) turret, equipped with a mid-infrared laser, was mounted on a US Army Sikorsky UH-60 helicopter. The unit generates multiple laser lines and is designed to jam "virtually all fielded infrared missiles", Northrop Grumman says. In the August demonstration, the upgraded DIRCM simultaneously defeated four missile seekers in two different bands at ranges up to 3km (2nm), the company says.

The laser-upgraded DIRCM was recently evaluated by the US Army, although the service has opted to stay with the troubled lamp- and laser-based Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures system developed by Lockheed Martin Sanders. Northrop Grumman, meanwhile, is offering the laser option to existing and new DIRCM customers.

The Viper diode-pumped laser, developed with Fibertek, is also compatible with Northrop Grumman's WANDA next-generation DIRCM, live-fire tests of which are planned for later this year.

Source: Flight International