ANG Testing Tanker With IR Countermeasure Pod

Jack Pledger, head of Northrop Grumman’s infrared countermeasure business development, told reporters Monday at AFA’s Air and Space Conference that the delay in the KC-X tanker replacement program has prompted USAF to consider adding countermeasure pods to its legacy tanker fleet, particularly those oldest models flown by the Air National Guard. The KC-X has a countermeasures requirement, but the KC-135s and other slow-moving mobility aircraft that increasingly operate in forward areas are susceptible to man-portable surface-to-air missiles that have proliferated around the world. Pledger said he expects to receive approval to begin flight tests by year’s end with the company’s AAQ-24 directional infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) system on an ANG KC-135. The system already has flown on C-17s and C-130s and, if the KC-135 test proves out, Northrop expects to fit a similar capability onto the KC-10 fleet as well.