After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles turned the tables on Russia's helicopter gunships and helped end the occupation. In the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, missile jammers have largely neutralized the threat. But still only a fraction of the aircraft that could find themselves in combat zones is protected by directional infrared countermeasures (Dircm) systems.
A major reason is size. Dircms started out big and have shrunk with time, but are only now becoming small enough to be carried by most military helicopters. And the next step is to make them even smaller—and powerful enough—to defend fast-jet combat aircraft against not only ground-to-air, but also air-to-air missiles.