The US Army is moving forward on the CIRCM programme enhancing rotorcraft protection.
Northrop Grumman is delivering its Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM) to the US Army. CIRCM will outfit the army’s helicopter fleet and some of its fixed-wing aircraft. The countermeasure entered full rate production on 30th April. The army says deliveries should conclude in April 2026.
Reports say that 100 examples have been delivered. These were installed on US Army Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters. Several other aircraft will receive CIRCM. They include US Army Boeing AH-64E Guardian helicopter gunships and CH-47 series heavy-lift helicopters. During a US Army round table discussion on 10th May representatives told Armada that a proportion of each fleet will receive the countermeasure. This is because not all these helicopters are expected to be deployed in combat at any one time. The full rate production contract covers 596 systems and is worth $959 million. Some of this money covers logistics and field support costs.
CIRCM works closely with an aircraft’s Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS). The MAWS detects an incoming missile. The target is handed off to the CIRCM. CIRCM tracks the missile and blinds its optronics seeker using a laser transmission.
US Army representatives said that CIRCM confers a new capability. Prior to its service entry army rotorcraft were mainly reliant on flares to defeat infrared (IR) guided missiles. Now missiles can be engaged either with the countermeasures, flares or a combination of both.
The army had rolled out BAE Systems’ OT-225 Advanced Threat IR Countermeasure (ATIRCM) across 83 CH-47s deployed to the Afghan and Iraqi theatres from 2009. This was necessary to help protect the aircraft from IR-guided missiles. Army representatives said that these OT-225 systems would be replaced by CIRCM in due course.
by Dr. Thomas Withington