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U.S. Army Seeks Foreign Military Sales for Aircraft Survivability System

The Common Infrared Countermeasures system could be available within two years.

The U.S. Army’s Program Office for Aircraft Survivability Equipment is working through the process of gaining approval to sell the Common Infrared Countermeasures (CIRCM) system to other countries, a process that could be completed within two years.

Army online documentation describes CIRCM as the next-generation lightweight, laser-based infrared countermeasure system that interfaces with both the Army’s Common Missile Warning System and future Missile Warning Systems “to defeat current and emerging missile threats to target rotary-wing, tilt-rotor and small fixed-wing aircraft across the DoD." CIRCM receives hand-off from the Missile Warning System and employs a pointing and tracking system to track incoming missiles. It uses an open systems architecture, which allows flexibility with software and hardware refreshes to keep pace with future threats, the website adds. The system is smaller and lighter and draws less power than the legacy Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure that it replaces on CH-47F aircraft.

“We’re currently working through the details with the appropriate authorities, as countries show interest into CIRCM,” Col. Brock Zimmerman, the Army program manager for Aircraft Survivability Equipment, said in a recent interview. “We just have to work through the process, to make sure we’re doing everything legally as we engage with these countries and deliver them our capabilities.”



















The foreign military sales (FMS) program is administered by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and is authorized by the Arms Export Control Act, which the Department of State oversees. Col. Zimmerman indicated the approval process could be completed “within the next two years.” His office is working through the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation.

He listed FMS as his second priority as program manager for CIRCM and an array of other aircraft survivability systems behind delivering modernized survivability systems to the Army aviation community and ahead of the third priority, developing science and technology programs to “pace the threat.”

The program manager declined to list which countries are interested in CIRCM but said the systems his office provides are in demand internationally. “A lot of our systems are popular. CIRCM is becoming very popular,” he asserted. “We already have the Limited Interim Missile Warning System as well. And then, we’re also upgrading our radar warning receiver—we just awarded a contract for that back in December, and once we get through our development cycle, I’m assuming that those systems that are recently on contract will be offered to our partners and allies.”

The program office already supports systems in more than 20 countries with a total of 40 active cases valued at roughly $1.3 billion in aircraft survivability equipment hardware and services, he noted, “And we’ve got to find opportunities to leverage foreign investment to help fund future capability development.”

Col. Brock Zimmerman, program manager, aircraft survivability equipment, U.S. Army
We’re currently working through the details with the appropriate authorities, as countries show interest into CIRCM.
Col. Brock Zimmerman
program manager, aircraft survivability equipment, U.S. Army

Finding those opportunities is done by establishing joint technology road maps with partner countries and sharing the costs of upgrades and associated costs, he explained. “I believe this provides a win-win for both the FMS partner, as well as the Army as we are able to reduce baselines and leverage investments.”

The system is currently in full-rate production, is mission capable on all Army rotary wing platforms, has been fielded and is protecting aircrews around the globe, according to the program webpage. Northrop Grumman, which provides CIRCM, says on its website that the system has achieved more than 25,000 operational flight hours on AH-64, CH-47 and UH-60 helicopters.

Col. Zimmerman also oversees the Improved Threat Detection System, which was recently funded in the latest fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill. Col. Zimmerman’s office plans to use an other transaction authority for the demonstration and analysis phase and anticipates selecting up to three vendors to start the ITDS effort. The program office so far has been working with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Elbit Systems.