Northrop Installs LAIRCM On Navy’s CH-53E Helicopter Fleet <


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Northrop Installs LAIRCM On Navy’s CH-53E Helicopter Fleet

By Mike Mitchell

February 11, 2010 - The Department of the Navy's CH-53E heavy lift helicopter fleet will continue to receive new Northrop Grumman Corporation designed, built and tested Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure (LAIRCM) self-protection systems following the Pentagon's decision to authorize full production of the units. 

The decision, allows Naval Air Systems Command to continue procurement of Northrop Grumman's battle-proven Department of Navy LAIRCM system, which includes the Viper Laser and the newest generation jam head and missile warning sensor technology.

"The LAIRCM Team has made a significant contribution to our forward deployed Marines. Today, the LAIRCM system is installed and is flying in combat operations providing the world's most advanced aircraft protection system to our Marines and Sailors," said CAPT Paul Overstreet USN – the Navy's Program Manager.


"This has been a model rapid acquisition program and could not have been accomplished without the tireless efforts of the Northrop Grumman/US Gov team." "Aircraft survivability equipment has taken on an increasingly important role in U.S. Department of Defense and Marine Corps aviation," said Carl Smith, vice president of Infrared Countermeasures Programs at Northrop Grumman's Land and Self Protection Systems Division. "During this highly accelerated program, the team accomplished in just 19 months what typically requires more than 36 months to complete. Frequent and effective communications between the government and contractor Integrated Product Team members were key to this success." 

To evaluate system effectiveness, live fire testing was performed at Tonopah and White Sands Missile Ranges in addition to flight testing at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and Eglin Air Force Base where the system demonstrated the capability to significantly increase aircraft survivability. LAIRCM went into operational use on CH-53E helicopters starting in January 2009 and has accrued over 4,500 successful flight hours providing aircrews with protection from potential infrared missile attacks. Full rate production authorization expands the platform base to include the CH-53D and CH-46E helicopters. 


The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military. It was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion, mainly by adding a third engine. Sailors and Marines commonly refer to the Super Stallion as the "Hurricane Maker" because of the downwash the helicopter generates. It was built by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps. The less common MH-53E Sea Dragon fills the United States Navy's need for long range mine sweeping or Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) missions, and perform heavy-lift duties for the Navy. The CH-53E/MH-53E are designated "S-80" by Sikorsky.

The only such aircraft protection system currently in production, Northrop Grumman's LAIRCM system is now installed or scheduled for installation on several hundred military aircraft including approximately 50 different fixed-wing transports and rotary-wing platforms. The system functions by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat, and activating a high-intensity laser-based countermeasure system to track and defeat the missile. Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.

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