JED - April 2011 - (Page 39)

The Journal of Electronic Defense | April 2011 By John Fleitz and Neal Brune In the days following 9-11 terrorist attacks, the US Infrared Countermeasure (IRCM) industry, like countless other defense contractors, were called to the Pentagon to discuss then-current production levels for IR decoys and countermeasures flares and surge production capacities necessary to meet any potential war requirements that were on the horizon. To date, IRCM programs, like most defense ammunition suppliers, had been funded for limited operational use, test and training, and small amounts of War Reserve Material (WRM). But a potential conflict in Southwest Asia would be a game-changer, as such an event would likely mean numerous helicopters, transports and strike aircraft flying at low altitudes – well inside the lethal range of IR man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Expendable decoys – both flares and Special Material Decoys (SMDs) – would be needed to allow US aircraft to operate freely in the presence of such threats, the more sophisticated threats requiring complex patterns of different flare types to provide complete protection. The industry raced to assemble its most accurate estimate of its output capacities to present to the Department of Defense, but the immediate requirements were far greater than expected, and they exceeded most industry expectations. One DOD official was quoted as saying, “Get your current highest production levels and times that by 10… That’s what we need tomorrow, not six months from now.” Industry was surprised to hear that their 6- and 12-month surge output estimates were the amounts the Pentagon was looking for almost immediately, and they scrambled to meet the challenge. In many cases, weekend and third shifts were added at flare manufacturing facilities, employees were hired, production lines were added, additional suppliers were certified, facilities were expanded and quality-control programs were ramped up to ensure that increased production did not compromise the industry’s high performance standards. The manufacture of infrared decoys is a complex, dangerous business with no room for error. When an IR MANPADS is launched at an aircraft, the aircrew has only seconds to 39

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - April 2011

JED - April 2011
Table of Contents
The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Latin American EW
The US IR Decoy Industry: Planning for a Viable Future
AOC/Shephard EW 2011 Preview
Book Review
EW 101
AOC News
AOC Industry and Institute/University Members
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look

JED - April 2011