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Northrop Grumman Corp. announced it will install and flight test its commercial aircraft protection system on a Boeing 747 and MD-11 this year. The system, called Guardian, represents the successful transfer of proven military directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) technology to protect commercial aircraft from attack by ground-based, shoulder-fired missiles. Under its contract with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Northrop Grumman recently completed the design and fabrication of the first Guardian system. This year’s testing will be part of the Federal Aviation Administration certification process. The company estimates its Guardian system, which is based on combat-proven, laser-based technology currently in production for the US military and international customers, will ultimately cost approximately half of recent published reports. “Guardian builds on our highly successful military system to offer DHS, airlines and the flying public, a reliable, superior system with affordable life-cycle costs,” said Robert Del Boca, vice president of Infrared Countermeasures and Laser Systems for Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector. Northrop Grumman is uniquely qualified in providing defensive systems for aircraft for more than sixty years, including industry leading infrared and laser technologies for the past 35 years. As an industry leader in the design, development and production of lasers, producing more annually than all other tactical laser manufacturers combined, the Guardian system is well positioned to protect commercial aircraft from the threat of heat-seeking missiles. The Northrop Grumman military system is currently protecting more than twenty different aircraft types and hundreds of aircrafts fielded today. Northrop Grumman is supported by two key industry partners on its counter-MANPADS team, Federal Express and Northwest Airlines. Federal Express will provide engineering services for installation and aircraft modification and certification. Northwest Airlines will provide engineering and technical services to develop a commercially viable equipment set suitable for operation within commercial airframes.
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