DOT&E: Preliminary testing positive for system to defend logistics helos from missiles

By Justin Katz  
February 11, 2019 at 4:01 PM

A Navy and Air Force program to protect logistics helicopters from a variety of guided missiles was commended in its first report by the Pentagon's top weapons tester as being capable of defeating the threats identified in a 2015 joint urgent operational needs statement.

The Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasures (DAIRCM) system is an "integrated suite of missile warning, laser warning, hostile fire indicator, and infrared countermeasure components designed to protect rotary-wing aircraft from the threat posed by infrared missiles," according to the director of operational test and evaluation's fiscal year 2018 report.

The DOT&E report states the Navy and Air Force completed preliminary testing on HH-60G and MH-60 helicopters in 2018, and the system performed as anticipated on both of those platforms.

The report recommends the Navy complete testing on the second iteration of the system's software, which the service is currently developing, and "complete the verification and validation of the missile warning [digital system model]."

Built by Leonardo, DAIRCM began development following a March 2015 joint urgent operational needs statement to "defeat vehicle-launched infrared-guided missiles and man-portable air-defense systems."

In December, the Air Force awarded Leonardo a $34 million contract to install the system onto 30 HH-60Gs. The "program of record will eventually support integration and retrofit of 300 [Marine Corps] and 397 [Navy] aircraft," including the AH-1Z, UH-1Y and MH-60S/R helicopters, according to Navy budget justification documents.

In FY-19, the Navy requested, and Congress appropriated, $47 million in research and development funding for DAIRCM and a similar system for assault aircraft called Common Infrared Countermeasures.