The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) C-130J Large Aircraft Infra-Red Counter-Measures (LAIRCM) system has achieved final operational capability (FOC).

The infrared countermeasures system protects the RAAF’s Lockheed Martin-built C-130J Super Hercules fleet from infrared-guided missiles.

The LAIRCM system was delivered under the Australian Department of Defence’s (DoD) AIR 5416 Phase 4B2 project, which is intended to provide additional electronic warfare self-protection (EWSP) for the transport aircraft.

General Air Combat Enablers director air commodore Mark Green said that the project was delivered ahead of schedule and under budget.

Green said: “The Large Aircraft Infra-Red Countermeasures provide enhanced protection against infrared-guided missiles for airforce’s fleet of C-130J tactical transport aircraft.”

“Maintaining effective defences against these prolific and increasingly sophisticated weapons is essential to the safe operation of the aircraft. Defence has been able to complete this critical upgrade three months earlier than projected, and under budget by A$146.85m ($100.4m).”

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Airbus Australia Pacific modified eight of the 12 aircraft in Australia and CAE Australia delivered modifications to the C-130J Full Flight Simulator.

In 2008, the US Government approved the sale of LAIRCM systems to Australia for installation on the C-130J aircraft.

Northrop Grumman was named the primary contractor for the delivery of the countermeasures system.

The LAIRCM is a laser-based countermeasures system capable of providing protection against infrared missile attack. The system can detect a missile launch and activate a countermeasure system to defeat the missile threat.

In September, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $96m ($65.63m) award to continue supporting the RAAF’s LAIRCM systems. The order includes engineering, logistics, sustainment, repair, and training support activities.