Northrop Grumman’s [NOC] Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) system for Army helicopters has achieved initial operational capability (IOC), the company said on Thursday.

The IOC milestone will allow for accelerated fielding of the laser-based protection system on more than 1,500 Army helicopters, according to Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) system (Northrop Grumman Photo)

“CIRCM’s ability to track and rapidly defeat infrared-guided threats has been validated over thousands of hours of rigorous testing in laboratory, flight and live-fire test environments,”  Bob Gough, Northrop Grumman’s vice president for navigation, targeting and survivability, said in a statement.“Achieving IOC was made possible by the entire team’s dedication and our strong partnership with the Army. Together we’ll provide U.S. Army aircrews with CIRCM’s unmatched threat protection.”

Northrop Grumman said CIRCM has met IOC requirements for the Army’s fleet of UH-60M Black Hawks, HH-60M MEDEVAC Black Hawks, CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopters and AH-64E Apaches. 

The Army in late April 2021 awarded Northrop Grumman a $959.1 million full-rate production contract for CIRCM, which is designed to protect aircraft from shoulder-fired and vehicle-launched anti-aircraft missiles (Defense Daily, May 3 2021). 

Northrop Grumman said at the time it expects to receive orders for more than 600 new systems during the life of the five-year, indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity award.

Over 250 CIRCM systems have been delivered to the Army so far, according to the company, with over 100 equipped on aircraft and more than 11,000 flight hours accumulated with the capability since first installation in December 2021. 

“Due to CIRCM’s reduced weight and increased power, system installs on the existing fleet will inform Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft  and Future Long Range Assault Aircraft requirements, making this critical life-saving technology a key enabler for Multi-Domain Operations and advancements in Army modernization,” Northrop Grumman wrote in a statement on Thursday. “As the next generation of laser-based infrared countermeasure systems, CIRCM’s modular, open systems approach works with existing hardware, simplifies upgrades, and keeps lifecycle costs low to provide flexibility and a solid platform to build upon in the future. Northrop Grumman continues to develop and improve CIRCM to overmatch current and future threats.”