XM215 Expendable Countermeasure Flare Prototype Demonstration Project

One of the primary missions of the Infrared/Radio Frequency (IR/RF) System Technologies Division (WXR), and the Countermeasure Design Branch (WXRL) at NSWC Crane, is to develop countermeasures to protect U.S. aircraft from threat missile systems. Expendable Countermeasures have been utilized to protect U.S. aircraft against surface-to-air and air-to-air threats since as early as the 1960’s. Once the presence of a missile is indicated, a pilot releases an expendable countermeasure in an attempt to decoy the missile. The countermeasure and countermeasure techniques are designed to confuse the missile seeker and its counter-countermeasure logic, ultimately causing it to decoy away from aircraft.

The threat environment and their counter-countermeasure capabilities are changing at an ever-increasing rate. This reality requires the capability to respond rapidly to new threat
missile systems by developing new expendable concepts and countermeasures that exploit the advanced threat’s vulnerabilities, while also maintaining the current capabilities of already deployed countermeasures that are designed to defeat previous classes of threats.

U.S. Army helicopter and fixed wing aircrews require the capability to defeat and/or suppress the effects of enemy air defense systems with active, semi-active, and/or passive expendable countermeasures. Expendable countermeasure flares are designed to protect Army helicopters and fixed wing aircraft against Electro-Optical /Infrared (EO/IO) guided threats. Expendable countermeasure systems must prevent guided munitions or their effects from damaging aircraft and have the ability to produce an optimal survivability solution against the most dangerous threats. Furthermore, aircrews require aircraft that can withstand engagements and the effects of threat weapon system munitions. Protecting aircrews and passengers from injury during enemy engagements is critical.

Expendable countermeasures are part of a multi-layer approach to protect aircraft from enemy threat missiles. In their simplest form, the concept of expendable countermeasures is to provide a decoy that is “more attractive” than the aircraft being protected, thereby pulling the threat missile’s targeting system away from the aircraft and towards the decoy. In total, any mechanism by which the expendable interferes with the missile’s targeting system sufficiently to make it miss the aircraft is a success.

Currently, there are no expendable countermeasures to protect aircraft and aircrews against specific threat weapons systems. The US Army Combat Capability Development Command Armaments Center (CCDC AC) has developed and demonstrated potential formulations/concepts that have the capability of meeting specific requirements for the XM215 Expendable Countermeasure. The Government is seeking an XM215 expendable countermeasure flare design that has been verified and qualified and is ready for a production decision, which includes the development of a government technical data package and acceptance specification. Upon contract award, the contractor(s) will be provided the classified portion of the TDP. PM-CCS seeks work with industry partners to further develop, test and demonstrate the XM215 Expendable Countermeasure Flare prototype formulation/concept.