Army Awards Helicopter Protection Development Contracts

by: Matthew Potter
February 6, 2012

Category: BAE Systems, Business Line, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, missile defense, northrop grumman, Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon, Services, U.S. Army | RSS 2.0

The U.S. Army’s rotary winged force has made great contributions to the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and has suffered some losses in these missions. The primary threat in those actions were small arms and machine gun fire but there was some use of surface-to-air missiles. The aircraft are fitted out with threat detection and jamming equipment and the Army plans to continue its investment in new systems for this mission.

With that two contracts were awarded last week to begin development of a new system that will jam or misdirect infra-red guided missiles which home in on the heat signal of the helicopter. The Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM) program once it goes into production could be worth several billion dollars due to the number of Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force helicopters that could have the system installed.

The two contracts to Northrop Grumman (NOC) and BAE Systems (BAE:LSE) will allow the company’s to develop their proposed solution to the CIRCM requirements. They both have a value of around $38 million. Once these contracts are complete the Army will evaluate the proposed solutions and then choose one to go into Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) to begin production and installation.

The CIRCM program was considered so valuable that proposals were received from ITT Exelis, Lockheed Martin (LMT) and Raytheon (RTN) as well. All of the companies that bid have experience with airborne jammers and protection systems.

Even though the U.S. defense budget is facing large cuts over the next five to ten years programs like this still need to be developed and introduced. There exists a large fleet of aircraft that will remain and they need to be updated to face improved threats from around the globe. If CIRCM is cut in the future it might be to stretch out the development or production so that the annual program cost is lower but eventually the desired result is achieved.

Photo from The U.S. Army flickr photostream.

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