$96M to DS2 for LAIRCM Aircraft Defense System Support
Defense Support Services (DS2), a Greenville, SC-based venture between Lockheed Martin and Day & Zimmermann, received a $96 million contract to provide support for the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (LAIRCM) System.
Northrop Grumman’s LAIRCM is a laser-based countermeasures system that is designed to defend C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft and other large, slow-moving aircraft from an infrared missile attack by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat, and activating a high-intensity system of pulsed lasers to track and defeat the threat by confusing its guidance head…
The LAIRCM was developed in response to heat seeking missiles that are able to outsmart the flares that large aircraft deploy to thwart them. Particularly troublesome are the shoulder-fired man-portable air-defense missiles (MANPADS). More than 700,000 MANPADS are estimated to have been produced in the past 30 years. According to the USAF, 90% of all US air combat losses for the last 25 years can be attributed to infrared missiles, such as MANPADS.
The LAIRCM system has 2 small laser transmitter assemblies mounted on the rear of the plane, as well as 5 missile warning transmitters at various points on the aircraft. The most prominent warning transmitters are in 2 projections on top of the aircraft just back of the cockpit that resemble “horns.” Processors in the cockpit and rear of the plane collect the data and transmit information to the aircrew.
Capt. Jeffrey Bryant, USAF 95th Airlift Squadron’s standardization and evaluation navigator, said that the USAF has seen a lot of MANPADS in Iraq. He explains how the LAIRCM system defeats them.
“The laser transmitters are the heart of the system. They basically work to interrupt the infrared signal, or heat. The two rear lasers ‘blind’ the missile’s eyeball, so it disables the missile’s ability to follow the heat source from the plane.”
The US Air Force’s Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base manages the DS2 contact (FA8625-10-D-6501).