LAICRM Detects Threats From Heat-Seeking Missiles
Maintenance personnel at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia will
begin to work on an advanced weapons system that protects large
cargo aircraft from attacks from shoulder-fired missiles, in a
December 11 contract agreement between Air Force and Northrop
Brig. Gen. Mark A. Atkinson, the 402nd Maintenance Wing
commander, and Doug Lawton, the supply chain management vice
president of Northrop Grumman Corp., signed a contract to perform
work on the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system, or
LAIRCM, at Robins Air Force Base.
Northrop Grumman officials designed LAIRCM to counter the
increasing threat that large, slow-moving cargo aircraft face from
shoulder-fired missiles and missiles launched from vehicles. The
system automatically detects the heat-seeking missiles and puts out
a signal to confuse its path and direct it away from the
"The agreement culminates a lot of hard work that has been done
behind the scenes by our folks who generate business for us, who
generate workload for us, (and) who monitor our business
operations," Atkinson said. "Our folks who do that along with the
contractor folks from Northrop Grumman have done a lot of work
together. We've looked for the best way to provide the warfighter
the LAIRCM capability. This agreement puts in concrete that
commitment to each other, to continue that partnership and to
continue to look for the most effective and efficient ways to
provide this system to the warfighter."
Phil Robinson, Northrop Grumman's system manager for LAIRCM,
said one result of the agreement is that the company will move its
LAIRCM hub from Fort Walton Beach, FL to the Warner Robins area in
Georgia. He also said the agreement means rather than Robins AFB
working only on LAIRCM systems on Air Force planes, it will also
maintain the system on other planes throughout the US armed forces
that are equipped with the system.
Although the agreement won't mean a lot of additional workload
in the near future -- bringing only about 500 hours per year over
the next two years -- it will ramp up to approximately 8,500 hours
in fiscal 2011. This timeline will give the base a chance to get
equipment in place and do training to prepare to do the work on a
larger scale. General Atkinson said he believes the potential for
additional workload is much greater than the current scheduled
hours as the system becomes more widely used.
"It's a steady ramp up," he said. "What this does is this gets
our foot in the door in a very positive way. It helps us establish
initial capability. It gives us a nice, steady ramp-up plan, and
the future holds that this system gives us great potential on
almost every system that the Air Force operates. Where the workload
is only a few hours to begin with, the potential workload for the
(Warner Robins Air Logistics Center) is tremendous."
Northrop Grumman currently does most of the maintenance work on
the system, General Atkinson said. A key reason behind the
agreement, he said, is that the Air Force considers the system too
important to rely solely on private industry for maintenance.
"It's always good business to have more than one provider," he
said. "It's always good business when the Air Force can team or
partner with the manufacturer of the system. These kinds of
partnerships can really pull together the best we have to offer in
terms of teamsmanship. We get the best of the Air Force
organization and the best of Northrop Grumman organization and what
comes out of the mix is very, very good."