Infrared Countermeasures Test and Evaluation
A shadowy figure hides in the brush near a military or civilian airport. A man-portable surface-to-air missile rests on his shoulder as he watches the aircraft take off. When the big jet reaches 3,000 feet, the missile locks onto the heat from the aircraft engines, and the gunner pulls the trigger. The 24-pound missile quickly accelerates to Mach 2, reaching its target in less than 5 seconds. The 4-pound warhead, although relatively small, is enough to bring the aircraft down. Over half a million of these relatively inexpensive weapons are available worldwide and are easily obtainable by terrorists, insurgents, and other enemy combatants. To counter this threat, the U.S. military, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, are developing Infrared Countermeasure IRCM systems. These IRCM systems are designed to defeat both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles by detecting the ultraviolet UV or infrared IR radiation from the missile plume the exhaust trail from the missile and then initiating countermeasures. Countermeasures include both flares, which are designed to give the missile a decoy target and laser jammers, which cause missile guidance systems to abruptly steer away from the target aircraft. Examples of IRCM systems currently in development include the Armys Advanced Threat IRCMCommon Missile Warning System ATIRCMCMWS the Air Forces Large Aircraft IRCM LAIRCM NexGen and the Navys Strike Directional IRCM DIRCM.