Beyond the stealthy F-35 and Lockheed Martin F-22, Northrop sees requirements for a podded version to protect aircraft such as the Boeing F-15 and Lockheed F-16. “It can be put in a self-contained pod, and it can be air-cooled,” Palombo says.
Tests in the system-integration lab will look at challenges such as the high-speed hand-off of targets between the upper and lower jam heads as the F-35 rolls at rates of up to 170-deg./sec., he says.
Northrop is evaluating lasers from three suppliers, and looking at quantum cascade laser (QCL) technology. Offering lower cost and higher reliability, QCLs are used for the first time in the compact Common Infrared Countermeasures (Circm) system under development to equip U.S. Army helicopters.
The competitive technology-development phase for Circm is scheduled to end early in 2014. A request for information for the engineering and manufacturing development phase has been issued, and a request for proposals is anticipated early in 2014, Palombo says.