Northrop Grumman announced that its Guardian™ Counter-Man Portable Air Defense System (C-MANPADS) currently installed on nine wide-body aircraft flying commercial revenue service has achieved 12,000 on-aircraft operational hours. “The program and system are a continuing success,” said Robert Del Boca, sector vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division. “The accumulation of operating hours in the intended environment is providing significant data regarding the veracity of the design. We will continue the flight test program for the next four months and anticipate ongoing positive achievements.”

Northrop Grumman began Phase III of the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) C-MANPADS program in August 2006. The program is scheduled to conclude in March 2008 with a final report to DHS. The Northrop Grumman-led industry team has completed all program production and hardware delivery requirements and is currently fully engaged in daily flight test operations across the nation. As of October 12, the Guardian system has accumulated more than 2500 revenue service flights, logging more than 12,000 hours of on-aircraft time. The Guardian system is a defensive aid utilizing proven military technology to defend against the threat that anti-aircraft, shoulder-fired missiles poses to commercial aviation. Once launched, the missile is detected by the guardian system, which then directs a non-visible, eye-safe laser to the seeker of the incoming missile, disrupting its guidance signals and protecting the aircraft.

To date, Northrop Grumman has completed an extensive flight test program in commercial test operational environments that included the use of a ground-based electronic missile surrogate to simulate the launch of a shoulder-fired missile toward aircraft during takeoff and landing. The tests were performed on an MD-11, an MD-10 and a B-747 aircraft. In each test, the Guardian system functioned as designed, automatically detecting the simulated launch and mock missile.

The company’s Guardian system makes use of multi-band laser and other technologies from the company’s military directional infrared countermeasure system, the only such protection system currently in production for the US military and several allied nations. Northrop Grumman’s Guardian system was developed as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s initiative aimed at protecting commercial aircraft from attack by ground-based, shoulder-fired missiles. The DHS program is focused on demonstrating the viability, economics and effectiveness of adapting existing military technology to protect commercial aircraft, both passengers and cargo, from this terrorist threat.