A light-weight version of Northrop Grumman’s Direct Infrared Counter-Measures (DIRCM) system is currently under development for the small combat helicopters most vulnerable to Man-Portable Air Defense (MANPAD) systems in combat theaters such as Afghanistan, said company officials during AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday. Helicopters such as the Air Force’s HH-60 currently relies on flare countermeasures for infrared self defense, often ineffective against modern MANPAD threats. Northrop officials said DIRCM’s laser-based system offers more effective, non-expendable, IR countermeasures, greatly enhancing survivability and dependability. And, they said the modularity of the Common Infrared Countermeasures system permits easy upgrade and integration. Northrop is continuing development toward a single-system, multi-functional suite providing integrated threat, warning, protection, and situational awareness. Existing versions of the system equip larger US and allied aircraft including Royal Air Force C-17s and US Air Force CV-22s.
The Air Force pointed out numerous operational and programmatic effects from Congress' inability to approve fiscal 2022 funding. These include hits to programs already underway as well as 16 new starts, plus seven military construction projects. Readiness also is suffering because the funding limits maintenance and exercises.