The US Navy has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman to provide infrared missile warning systems (IRMWS) and processors.

Under the $80m contract, the company will supply more than 450 IRMWS and 90 processors to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in support of medium and heavy lift helicopter fleets.

The delivery will complete the initial Navy’s Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) installation on 156 aircraft to provide infrared threat protection for US Marine Corps CH-53E, CH-46E and CH-53D platforms.

Northrop Grumman’s LAIRCM is a laser-based aircraft protection system that automatically detects a missile launch and activates a laser-based countermeasure system to destroy the threat.

Deliveries are scheduled to begin in May 2011 and run until the second quarter of 2013.