A Directed Infrared Counter Measure (DIRCM) uses a sophisticated laser to disrupt the incoming IR ‘heat-seeking’ missile’s ability to commence, continue or reacquire tracking on an aircraft’s heat signature. This disruption results in the missile missing the aircraft, ultimately saving the mission and bringing the crew home safe.
MANPADS have recently developed greater sensitivity that can differentiate a flare from a sustained heat source, such as an engine. As a result, other parts of the aircraft can be tracked, not just the exhaust plume.
Adversary tactics have also developed, with high-value targets most likely targeted by multiple MANPADS simultaneously, and therefore a faster countermeasure response is required to defeat multiple, concurrent threats.
With a laser energy source embedded in a highly agile enclosed turret system, a DIRCM can be infinite in duration and provide protection for the whole mission, keeping aircrews safe even in dense threat engagement environments.
A DIRCM is occasionally seen as a ‘nice-to-have’. At Leonardo, we would argue that it is now a ‘must-have’ in order to operate safely in the unstable world’s lower airspace, and in particular, the take-off/landing phases of flight – the heart of the MANPADS’s threat environment.