Tactical Aircraft Directable Infrared Countermeasures (TADIRCM)
The US Navy's Tactical Aircraft Directable Infrared Countermeasures (TADIRCM) program is researching the feasibility of a deployable IR laser countermeasures capability aboard tactical aircraft. TADIRCM is an Advanced Technology Demonstration program directed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). It is a low profile, laser-based infrared (IR) countermeasure system. It is designed to protect fixed-wing aircraft from both current and advanced surface-launched and air-launched IR guided missiles.
TADIRCM consists of two (2) subsystems: infrared missile warning system and a directed infrared countermeasure system intended to be operationally deployed on tactical aircraft. The system will defend the host aircraft from infrared-guided attacking missiles by detecting the approaching threat and disabling it through the use of directed laser energy. The system should provide full coverage about the host aircraft and survive extreme thermal, vibration, and other environmental conditions experienced by tactical aircraft.
Today, even the simplest military force or terrorist group can possess an advanced air defense capability, justifying the need to make TADIRCM systems operational through continued system development. The system includes six two-color IR staring sensors, a signal processor, a modulated IR laser and two compact pointer/trackers for the detection and jamming of threat seekers. The system detects and tracks incoming missiles, and then decisively jams them with its "Agile Eye" jammer.
The TADIRCM program is a concept demonstration effort managed by the Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems (ATAPS) program office (PMA-272) at Naval Air Systems Command (Patuxent River, MD) and supported by the Naval Research Lab (Washington, DC). The goal of the program is to develop and demonstrate missile warning, pointing/tracking and directed IR jammer technology that can be meet the needs of tactical fixed-wing aircraft, such as the Navy's F/A-18 fighters and the Air Force's F-15s and F-16s.
The TADIRCM concept demonstration effort began in 1997 under a contract to BAE Systems (Nashua, NH). For the past two years, the Navy has evaluated the TADIRCM demonstration hardware during captive flight tests on a P-3 Orion at Patuxent River, MD, and seeker van tests at China Lake's Threat Missile Motor Range.
The TADIRCM system completed a final major test in 2001 - confirming that the technology is ready for the next stage of development. The November 19, 2001, test was the first time that a modern infrared air-to-air missile launched at a tactical fighter has been defeated by an on-board laser-based directional infrared countermeasures system. The test was conducted at the U.S. Naval Weapons Range at China Lake, California. For the live fire test, the TADIRCM system was installed on a U.S. Navy QF-4 drone flying at high speed over the China Lake range. The drone was pursued by two Air Force F-15 fighters, one of which was equipped with the infrared air-to-air missile. The F-15 locked onto the target drone and fired its missile. Aboard the drone, the two-color missile warning system - using Naval Research Laboratory developed algorithms - immediately detected the launch. Missile declaration and laser jamming by the BAE SYSTEMS "Agile Eye" IR countermeasures system occurred very rapidly, and drove the missile off course
The Naval Research Laboratory and BAE Systems successfully completed the captive carry, static and live-fire missile tests for the TADIRCM system, bringing increased aircraft protection closer to reality. These live-fire tests, conducted at WD Land Range in November 2001, marked the first time a modern infrared missile launched at a tactical fighter aircraft from another aircraft or surface system had been defeated by an onboard laser-based directional infrared countermeasures system.
The Navy has $60 million for the three-year risk-reduction program, which runs from FY02-FY04. According to informed sources, the Navy's risk-reduction objective is to miniaturize the TADIRCM hardware for possible installation in a pod. This would make for a more affordable TADIRCM program during the production phase.
TADIRCM, the Tactical Aircraft Directed InfraRed Countermeasure system, provides the warfighter with protection against surface and air to air missiles. This project looks at the infrared (IR) MANPAD & surface to air (SAM) threat. FY 2005 Congressional language provided funding for the completion of the Early Operational Assessment (EOA) project into flight test. The completion was scheduled for 2006.
The objective of the Tactical Aircraft Directed InfraRed Countermeasure (TADIRCM) Initial Suitability project is to take science and technology components and configure into an airborne pod and perform limited effectiveness testing. The output will be test articles consisting of a 2-color missile warning sensor or sensors to detect and declare the threat; an off-the-shelf Advanced Technology Demonstration laser coupled to a new miniature pointer/tracker which takes the declared threat from the missile warning and passes to a fine track sensor in the pointer/tracker, subsequently slewing and applying laser energy to counter the threat. All this will be contained within a newly designed wing-mounted pod. FY 2005 accomplishments include the POD design and build, the delivery of 2 missile warning sensors, design and build of the system processor, and design and build of pointer/trackers by two separate contractors.
FY06 continues efforts began with the design and build of a podded DIRCM system, (incorporating missile warning sensors, system processor and pointer/tracker), and flight test the pod to provide an assessment of the advanced technology in simulated flight conditions. Information gained during this Early Operational Assessment (EOA) will be leveraged to develop and field a DIRCM system for Strike aircraft by 2013, and Assault aircraft by 2014.
In conjunction with the flight testing of the DIRCM pod, intensive pre-SDD efforts begin in FY 2006 including but not limited to: Analysis of Alternatives (AOA) for Strike and Assault DIRCM, pre-SDD contracting actions, initiation of program documentation to support milestone B decision in FY 2007, and development of applicable modeling and simulation models beginning in FY 2007.
The management and acquisition strategy for the Tactical Aircraft Directed InfraRed Countermeasure (TADIRCM) Initial Suitability assessment entails a competitive phased approach to reduce risk to cost and schedule through viable competition. This Early Operational Assessment (EOA) project awarded two contracts for pointer/tracker/laser development , one contract for pod development, and one contract for missile warning sensors. The Naval Research Lab will be the technical lead in integration of these pointer/trackers, lasers, and sensors within the pod utilizing government furnished processors and ancillary data recording equipment. The Navy selected one contractor in FY 2005 to one pointer/tracker/laser contract at the fabrication point to ensure the project does not exceed budget and can be executed.
Tactical Aircraft Directed Infrared Countermeasures (TADIRCM) continues to develop to provide the warfighter protection against surface and air-to-air missiles. TADIRCM was split into two programs of record:
Assault DIRCM is an advanced capability against the IR SAM threat. Recent losses to assault aircraft, as a result of IR SAMs, require an advanced DIRCM solution. Assault DIRCM system development and demonstration (SDD) for helicopters was scheduled to start in late 2006. With additional investment by the Army, a directed IRCM system for Naval assault aircraft (essentially helicopters) is to be developed and fielded by 2011. Assault DIRCM is anticipated to IOC in 1st quarter FY 2014.
The Assault Directed Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) program is anticipated to be a spiral upgrade to the Army's Suite of Integrated Infrared Countermeasures (SIIRCM), whereas the lead of this spiral upgrade has yet to be determined. The Army and Navy will pursue a common solution on a joint set of requirements for this spiral upgrade. It is anticipated this spiral upgrade DIRCM solution will address the more advanced IR SAMs.
Strike Directed Infrared Countermeasure System Development and Demonstration (Strike DIRCM SDD) designed for fixed wing aircraft is an anticipated ACAT II program, which anticipated receiving a MS B decision in First Quarter FY 2007. The Strike DIRCM SDD will leverage information gained during the EOA to develop and field a DIRCM system for Naval assault aircraft by 2013. Strike DIRCM is needed for protection against Surface to Air and Air-to-Air IR threats. Strike DIRCM regains airspace below 20K feet. DIRCM neutralizes the IR threat.
Strike Directed Infrared Countermeasure System Development and Demonstration (Strike DIRCM SDD) designed for fixed wing aircraft is an anticipated ACAT II program, which anticipates receiving a MS B decision in First Quarter FY 2007 and an SDD contract award in 3rd Quarter FY 2007. Strike DIRCM is needed for protection against Surface-to-Air and Air-to-Air IR threats. Strike DIRCM regains airspace below 20K feet.
The Strike DIRCM program will maximize use of technology developed under the EOA. Strike DIRCM is a podded family of systems. The program will accomplish component redesign/repackaging necessary to survive the tactical aircraft environment. The program will conduct tests to verify system performance meets the tactical environment.
CH-53 Directed InfraRed Countermeasures (DIRCM)
CH-53 Directed InfraRed Countermeasures (DIRCM) Technology Assessment Program (TAP) is a FY 2005 Supplemental Add. The funding was used for the test of all applicable USSOCOM MH-53 DIRCM system capable hardware and software, hardware-in-the-loop countermeasure effectiveness modeling and simulation, the integration and installation of a flight testing, a complete de-modification of the aircraft will be performed to return it to a serviceable condition.
FY 2005 Supplemental funding was used for the test of all applicable USSOCOM MH-53 Directed InfraRed Countermeasures (DIRCM) system capable hardware and software, hardware-in-the-loop countermeasure effectiveness modeling and simulation, the integration and installation of a flight test instrumentation package, support of Government conducted ground and flight test to include data reduction and analysis. After completion of flight testing, a complete de-modification of the aircraft was performed to return it to a serviceable condition.
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