Raytheon has used its missile experience to develop an infrared countermeasures (IRCM) capability that is vying to provide a LAIRCM (large-aircraft IRCM) solution for the U.S. Air Force’s fixed-wing platforms, and a CIRCM (common IRCM) system for the U.S. Army’s helicopters. A recent test series was conducted with great success.
For the U.S. Air Force, the company has developed the Quiet Eyes laser turret assembly (QELTA ), which won a Defense Acquisition Challenge contract. Raytheon used AIM-9X air-to-air missile seeker technology as the basis for developing the system that directs a quantum cascade laser (QCL) at threats. It is compatible with lasers from several suppliers, and in the QELTA configuration employs a Daylight Solutions QCL. The turret is designed to fit existing airframe apertures and connections, and a trial installation has been made on a C-130 Hercules. In March, the QELTA was put through a grueling tower test at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
According to Mike Booen, Raytheon’s v-p advanced security and directed energy systems, “QELTA defeated every threat the U.S. Air Force presented; it was a flawless performance. Our solution is nearly half the weight of the existing system and draws significantly less power. QELTA is twice as reliable as the current system at half the acquisition cost, and will significantly reduce life-cycle costs.” He added that a low-rate initial production decision could be expected in 12 to 18 months.
Meanwhile, Raytheon is awaiting a U.S. Army decision concerning the CIRCM program, expected in late September. Existing directed IRCM systems have been too large for installation in most U.S. Army helicopters, so small size is a crucial factor. Raytheon’s CIRCM proposal is sized to fit helicopters down to the size of the Bell AH-1Z Cobra.
CIRCM employs similar technology to that of the QELTA, although it employs a Northrop Grumman QCL. It can be fully integrated with the common missile warning system and other defensive aids systems. Raytheon is marketing similar systems internationally as the Scorpion, for both military and VIP/civil applications.