Helicopter Defense: The Quantum Cascade Laser Jammer
Seniorhelpline enjoys covering the
cat-and-mouse game between anti-aircraft missile designers and those who develop countermeasures for aircraft. So when the folks at ITT offered to drop by the office to give us a sneak peek at a working model of their new Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) system, we couldn't say no. The device is going to be shown in public for the first time at next week's Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting & Exposition in Washington, D.C.
CIRCM uses a laser to scramble the seekers used by missiles that have infrared homing devices in their tips. The Navy and Army want these defenses for their helicopters, which are particularly vulnerable to heat-seeking missiles. The idea of using lasers to scramble IR-guided missiles has been around for a while, and most of the large defense firms have created systems to do so. But they've been waiting for the Pentagon to place an order to replace the current laser jammer, BAE's Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure (ATIRCM). Now it has, and the competition is under way.
Last summer, we saw BAE Systems' next-gen solution, Boldstroke
. It comes in a medium-size box topped with a clear hemisphere housing a mirror mounted on a 360-degree gimbal. The swivel provides better coverage than the 2-axis steering of the currently deployed ATIRCM.
Today, on the same table in the PM office, ITT's lead engineer for electro-optical systems, John Janis, showed off the company's version of an IR-missile jammer: ITT Infrared Countermeasures (IRCM). The visit gave us a real world example of how engineers approach the same problems in different ways.