Monday, July 6, 2020

Northrop Grumman marks the end of development phase of KC-135 defense system

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U.S. weapons maker Northrop Grumman Corp has announced that Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) pod for the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft has achieved Milestone C.

The LAIRCM defense system is designed to protect the KC-135 Stratotanker and other aircraft from surface-launched Infrared (IR) guided missiles.

According to a news release put out by Northrop on Wednesday, this critical milestone, awarded by the Department of Defense Milestone Decision Authority, marks the end of the development and testing phase and enables the beginning of production and deployment.

The KC-135 does not have system built-in missile defense systems like some other aircraft because traditionally they were out of range of high-threat areas. The LAIRCM Gen 3 system will allow airplanes without built-in systems the safety and security to enter hot-spots around the globe.

The Generation 3 podded LAIRCM system, known previously as Guardian™, is an infrared countermeasure system that detects, tracks and jams incoming missiles. It incorporates advanced missile warning sensors, a compact laser pointer/tracker and a processor in a single pod that can be readily transferred between aircraft to meet rapidly changing mission requirements.

This mature system leverages Northrop Grumman’s decades-long countermeasures experience and requires no aircrew intervention. KC-135 aircrews can focus on their critical refueling, aeromedical evacuation and cargo missions while gaining the full survivability benefit the LAIRCM system provides.

To achieve Milestone C, Northrop Grumman worked closely with the KC-135 Program Office, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command to thoroughly test LAIRCM for KC-135 in the laboratory and the field.

“In this changing threat environment, the LAIRCM Generation 3 pod is ready to provide much-needed protection to KC-135 aircrews as they carry out their critical support missions,” said Bob Gough, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR, Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman’s infrared countermeasure systems have been installed on more than 1,800 large and small fixed wing, rotary wing and tilt-rotor platforms of more than 80 types.

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Samantha Mathiso

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