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BAE Delivers Anti-Missile Protection System (Feb. 9)



BAE Systems has delivered the first production Directional Infra Red Countermeasures (DIRCM) anti-missile protection turret.

The system is being fitted to transport aircraft and helicopters in service with American and British armed forces and will protect the aircraft from infra red heat-seeking missiles by jamming the seeker.

DIRCM is a collaborative transatlantic programme involving BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman. The DIRCM turret is the active missile jamming element of the AAQ 24 (V) DIRCM Self Protection Suite.

DIRCM is a revolutionary protection system, which is designed to detect the launch of a heat-seeking missile, determine if it is a threat and track its flight, before defeating its seeker head with an emission of infra red energy. The missile loses its lock on the target and very quickly veers off its course and is destroyed.

Initial concept studies began in the late 1980s with full development and production contracts placed in 1995. This work has produced a range of turrets for operational fixed and rotary wing platforms. DIRCM system is significantly ahead of the competition and is designed to protect aircraft from all aspect attack capability heat seeking missiles.

The world market for DIRCM-type systems is estimated to exceed £1 billion. DIRCM currently has orders for several hundred systems and the projected lifespan of the programme is in excess of 20 years.

Arnie Welch, Northrop Grumman's IRCM Vice President formally accepted the first of the revolutionary new system at BAE Systems' Edinburgh plant. He said: "This is a technologically advanced and capable product and its entry into operational service in the UK and US represents a major milestone and global lead for the Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems team."

BAE Systems project director Jim Trysburg said: "Nearly every aircraft shot down in the last 15 years has been the result of attack by a heat-seeking missile. The DIRCM system is a world leader and will help protect operational aircraft wherever there is a threat from these missiles. BAE Systems' expertise in optical tracking and pointing systems has resulted in the design of a life-saving product."

DIRCM is a self-protection suite carried by transport aircraft and helicopters, which has been proven to be effective against the threat of a heat-seeking missile. DIRCM passively detects the plume of an IR-guided missile and quickly classifies the threat as lethal (it is aimed at the aircraft), non-lethal (will not intercept the aircraft) or clutter.

The system alerts the crew and autonomously activates a high power modulated arc lamp, which tracks and defeats the threat by confusing the missile's heat-seeking sensor. Missiles quickly lose lock and diverge from their flight path. The system has undergone a number of live fire trials in the US over the last two years and performed effectively by successfully causing the missile to lose lock and protect the target aircraft. The equipment has recently completed a comprehensive development and qualification programme.

The system is stabilised and will operate throughout the flight envelope of the host aircraft. Multiple turrets can be installed on large transport aircraft to ensure full spherical coverage and each turret is equipped with a laser path to enable future upgrades. BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman are developing a range of suitable laser products for upgrade of the DIRCM for potential future missile developments. DIRCM is fully effective against current threat IR missiles with the lamp-based system.

BAE Systems is the truly global systems, defence and aerospace company. BAE Systems employs more than 120,000 people, in nine home markets around the world and has annual sales of some £12 billion. The company offers a global capability in air, sea, land and space with a world-class prime contracting ability supported by a range of key skills. BAE Systems designs and manufactures civil and military aircraft, surface ships, submarines, space systems, radar, avionics, communications, electronics, guided weapon systems and a range of other defence products.

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BAE Systems Delivers First Production Anti Missile Protection System