Northrop Grumman Flight Tests of DIRCM
Northrop Grumman laser-based, directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) tested on an US Army UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter at the Aviation Technology Test Center (ATTC) at Ft. Rucker, Alabama
Northrop Grumman, August 24, 1999 - ROLLING MEADOWS, IL - Northrop Grumman Corporation's Electronic Systems and Sensors Sector (ES3) successfully demonstrated a new, laser-based, directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system in early August using a compact mid-infrared (IR) laser.
The laser was developed jointly with Fibertek Inc. of Herndon, Va., a leading maker of ultra-compact, solid-state, diode pumped lasers.
``The flight tests confirmed the effectiveness of the laser-based DIRCM system,'' said Bill Brackney, vice president and general manager of the company's Defensive Systems Division. ``Our solid-state laser, known as Viper(TM), performed flawlessly, directing laser energy on target and simultaneously defeating four missile seekers at ranges up to three kilometers.''
The laser system was mounted on a Northrop Grumman DIRCM-equipped U.S. Army UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter at the Aviation Technology Test Center (ATTC) at Ft. Rucker, Ala. ATTC provided the aircraft, the flight crew and support for the test under contract from Northrop Grumman.
``These recent test successes at Fort Rucker make the DIRCM/Viper configuration the first fully autonomous, laser-based jammer on any platform operating in multiple bands,'' added Mr. Brackney.
The Viper is designed to produce multiple laser lines in the mid-IR spectrum to jam virtually all fielded IR missiles. Viper is packaged in a two-inch-thick case, weighing less than 10 pounds, and is designed for incorporation into both existing production configurations of Northrop Grumman's AN/AAQ-24(V) Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) System.
For these flight tests, production AN/AAQ-24(V) hardware, including missile warning sensors, processors and transmitters, were supplied by Northrop Grumman's DIRCM Program Office. The test setup included a mounting plate to attach the AN/AAQ-24(V)/Viper configuration--weighing just 113 pounds--to the side of the Black Hawk aircraft.
Five missions were conducted to demonstrate basic system function, laser accuracy, missile engagements, and jamming capabilities in conjunction with the DIRCM system. The UH-60 Black Hawk aircraft operated as an autonomous system, directing laser energy on target to defeat four missile seekers (in two different bands) at various ranges and altitudes. More than 100 separate profiles (runs) were completed, encompassing approximately 10 hours of flight time.
The flight tests involved simulated missile launches to verify the DIRCM system functions, including threat detection, handoff of the threat from its missile warning system to a fine track sensor and the directing of laser energy for the duration of the engagement.
The DIRCM system was developed by Northrop Grumman's Defensive Systems Division in Rolling Meadows, Ill., together with its major teaming partner, Marconi Electronics Systems in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is designed to protect both rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft from heat-seeking missiles. The lamp-based DIRCM system is a joint program for the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Special Operations Command.
That system has been successfully flight-tested in both the small and large transmitter configurations. Successful live fire testing of the small transmitter configuration took place at the White Sands, N.M., missile range last summer and tests of the large system are currently under way there.
The Viper laser is also compatible with a new laser-only transmitter, currently in development at Northrop Grumman. Further testing is scheduled to occur this September when the laser will be integrated with the company's next-generation transmitter and two-color infrared missile warning sensor. The laser will be deployed against live missile shots as part of the U.S. Navy's Tactical Aircraft Directional Infrared Countermeasures (TADIRCM) Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD).
Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems Sector, headquartered in Baltimore, Md., is a world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of defense electronics and systems, precision weapons, airspace management systems, space systems, marine systems, and automation and information systems.