Driving missiles off course

The US Navy’s Tactical Aircraft Directable Infrared Countermeasures (TADIRCM) system completed a final major test in 2001 confirming that the technology is ready for the next stage of development. The program is researching the feasibility of a deployable IR laser countermeasures capability aboard tactical aircraft.

The November 19th test was the first time that a modern infrared air-to-air missile launched at a tactical fighter has been defeated by an on-board laser-based directional infrared countermeasures system. The test was conducted at the US Naval Weapons Range at China Lake, California.

For the live fire test, the TADIRCM system was installed on a US Navy QF-4 drone flying at high speed over the China Lake range. The drone was pursued by two Air Force F-15 fighters, one of which was equipped with the infrared air-to-air missile. The F-15 locked onto the target drone and fired its missile.

Aboard the drone, the two-colour missile warning system – using Naval Research Laboratory developed algorithms – immediately detected the launch. Missile declaration and laser jamming by the BAE Systems ‘Agile Eye’ IR countermeasures system occurred very rapidly, and drove the missile off course.