The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded a contract modification to Northrop Grumman to continue providing hardware and support for the AN/AAQ-24 large aircraft infrared countermeasure (LAIRCM) missile defence system.

The $238m contract is modified from a previously awarded deal, and requires the company to deliver additional transmitters, missile warning sensors, processors, lasers, control interface units and supporting equipment to the air force.

Northrop Grumman Land and Self Protection Systems Division infrared countermeasures programmes vice-president Carl Smith said the contract represents a continuation of the company’s 14-year relationship with the air force to safeguard the aircrews.

"The LAIRCM is designed to protect large transport and rotary-wing aircraft from IR-guided missile threats by confusing their guidance systems."

"Our LAIRCM open architecture has enabled this system to be upgraded and enhanced over time to introduce new technologies to counter emerging threats, while decreasing system cost, and steadily increasing reliability leading to an excellent total life cycle cost for the system," Smith said.

Equipped with five infrared (IR) missile warning system (MWS) sensors, LAIRCM is designed to protect large transport and rotary-wing aircraft from IR-guided missile threats by confusing their guidance systems, without requiring inputs from the aircrew.

The system primarily safeguards aircraft against shoulder-fired, vehicle-launched, and other IR-guided missiles during normal takeoff and landing, assault landings, tactical descents, air drops, low-level flight and aerial refuelling missions.

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The system has been mounted or selected for installation on more than 700 military aircraft, including 11 UK military aircraft, USAF’s C-5B, C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster, MC-130H Talon, as well as Australia’s A330 tanker and 737 airborne early warning and control aircraft.

Support services under the contract are scheduled to continue until April 2016.

Defence Technology