(Updates with contract value in second paragraph and program details beginning in fourth paragraph)
Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- BAE Systems Plc and Northrop Grumman Corp. won U.S. military contracts to develop missile-jamming lasers for helicopters, the Army announced today.
BAE received a $38 million contract and Northrop was awarded $31.4 million, Brandon Pollachek, an Army spokesman at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, said in a phone interview. Both are for technology development during 21 months.
The Common Infrared Countermeasure, or CIRCM, program is valued at a minimum of $1.1 billion. It may rise to as much as $5 billion if the Navy and Air Force, as well as allied militaries, decide to install the laser defense systems, Andrew Dardine, an analyst with the research firm Forecast International of Newtown, Connecticut, has said.
The infrared system is a laser that diverts missiles by jamming their sensors with intense heat. The Army plans to initially outfit 1,076 helicopters, starting with Sikorsky’s UH-60 Black Hawk.
The technology will work with the aircraft’s missile warning system “to ensure an envelope of protection,” Colonel John Leaphart, a project manager at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, said in a statement.
“We are delighted to have been selected,” Ellen Hamilton, a Northrop spokeswoman, said in an e-mail statement. The company will work with partners SELEX Galileo, part of Rome-based Finmeccanica SpA, and Daylight Defense LLC to help protect helicopters from shoulder-fired missiles, she said.
BAE, based in London, and Northrop, based in Falls Church, Virginia, had competed against ITT Exelis Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co.
Lockheed was dropped from the competition last summer, Craig Vanbebber, a spokesman for the Bethesda, Maryland-based company, said in a phone interview.
“Exelis is very proud of the affordable and reliable low- risk solution that our team developed,” Robert Ferrante, a vice president at the McLean, Virginia-based company, said in a statement. He said the system is based on open architecture and “one of the most technologically advanced available.”
--With assistance from Roxana Tiron in Washington. Editors: Stephanie Stoughton, Joe Winski
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