The US Navy has joined Northrop Grumman’s large aircraft IR countermeasures (LAIRCM) system programme, which is designed to protect large US aircraft from IR-guided man-portable surface-to-air missiles.

As part of the programme the US Navy’s CH-53E heavy-lift helicopter fleet will continue to receive new LAIRCM self-protection systems after the Pentagon authorises full-rate production of the units.

The move enables Naval Air Systems Command to continue procurement of the system known as the department of navy LAIRCM (DoN LAIRCM) system, which includes the Viper laser and the latest-generation jam head and missile warning sensor technology.

Derived from the AN/AAQ-24 Nemesis directional IR countermeasure system, LAIRCM uses a missile warning system to detect an incoming missile and a protection system to direct a pointer-tracker to the missile’s seeker jamming it with a IR laser energy beam.

The jamming power offered by LAIRCM has become necessary to install multiple jam heads to ensure adequate protection especially for the transport and other large, multiengine aircraft.

The LAIRCM system has been largely used on US Air Force aircraft while the US Navy Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems Program Office recently purchased LAIRCM for the US Marines CH-53E Sea Stallion aircraft.