The Army last Friday evening said it has awarded Northrop Grumman [NOC] a $959.1 million contract to begin full-rate production of the Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM), a laser-based system to protect aircraft from man-portable air defense systems.

Under the five-year contract, Northrop Grumman will initially supply CIRCM systems for the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters. The company previously delivered 150 units for a quick reaction capability and for the successful six-month initial operational test and evaluation activity combined.

Under the full-rate production contract, Northrop Grumman expects to receive orders for more than 600 new systems during the life of the five-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity award. In July 2022, Northrop Grumman will begin delivery of the 126 systems in the first year of the contract, with those units completing delivery by July 2023.

Ultimately, the goal is to install CIRCM on all Defense Department helicopters, tilt-rotor and small fixed-wing aircraft.

The Army in its fiscal year 2021 budget documents said the lightweight CIRCM will “interface with both the Army’s Common Missile Warning System and future missile warning systems to defeat current and emerging missile threats that use multispectral energy.” The system is also using an open architecture approach for software and hardware to keep pace with future threats, the service said.