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Achievement Award Winners

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2005 Award Recipients

Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM)


LAIRCM, the Large Aircraft Infrared Counter Measures system, protects large aircraft from infrared missile threats by automatically detecting a missile launch, determining if it is a threat, and activating a high-intensity directed beam laser countermeasure system to track and defeat the threat. LAIRCM uses a staring missile warning system to detect a missile launch. The system processor then directs a pointer-tracker that locks on to the missile in flight and jams the missile's guidance system with a beam of infrared laser energy. Large slow aircraft with high signatures flying at low altitudes are prime targets for MANPAD missiles and need the protection LAIRCM provides.

This ManTech project focused on two major components of the LAIRCM system: the ViperTM Laser and the Mini-Pointer Tracker (MPT) turret. The ViperTM laser provides energy on target to jam threat missiles. The Mini-Pointer Tracker tracks the target and directs the laser beam in the proper direction.

The ManTech LAIRCM effort introduced manufacturability improvements dramatically improving production yield, increasing the production rate of ViperTM lasers from 2 per month to 15-20 per month. Design improvements also resulted in a 30% to 50%increase in laser power efficiency. Increased energy output contributes to threat jamming capability and greater aircraft survivability. Manufacturing improvements have led to reliability enhancements and a significant increase in mean time between failure.

The benefit of this effort to the warfighter was almost immediate. The project enabled the contractor to ramp up production one year ahead of schedule- in time for LAIRCM to protect C-17s and C-130s during Operation Iraqi Freedom. If just one aircraft has been protected from a threat missile just one time because of this project, the return on investment is immeasurable. However, measurable benefits include reduction in acquisition cost of more than 50%, so that it is financially feasible to acquire more LAIRCM systems and protect more aircraft. Reliability and reparability improvements also resulted in greater availability (less down-time) of the protected aircraft, resulting in an estimated $1.2M to $1.8M reduction in total ownership cost per aircraft.

LAIRCM units are already operational on Air Force and SOCOM C-17, C-130, CV-22, and MH-53 aircraft. LAIRCM systems are or soon will be installed on more than 20 different fixed- and rotary-wing platforms across U.S. military services and several allied countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Denmark. The Department of Homeland Security is investing over $45M to evaluate a Counter-MANPADS system based on the VipeTM laser and MPT turret for use on U.S. civilian airliners. Every one of these installations will benefit from the system and production improvements implemented under this ManTech effort.

Government / Industry Team Members:

Large Marine Composite-to-Steel Adhesive Joints


The DD(X), the next generation destroyer, is the centerpiece to the transformation of the 21st century Navy. Reducing the weight of the ship, especially structures above the waterline, is critical. The composite deckhouse and helicopter hanger are key components that are helping DD(X) achieve operational requirements for improved performance, increased survivability, and low ownership cost. Composites are lightweight, strong, and are not susceptible to salt water corrosion. However, joining composites to steel is not easy, particularly for large marine structural joints. High quality, long life, low radar cross-section joints are needed, with adhesive bonds that provide load continuity. Current joining methods use mechanical fasteners that are expensive, have labor-intensive installation procedures, and result in high maintenance joints that can corrode from salt water. New joining techniques must be developed to maximize the benefits of composites for ships. Although composite-to-steel adhesive bonds have been successfully designed, manufactured, and tested for use in other industries, the technology has not been proven for shipbuilding because of the functional requirements, the marine environment, and the size of the structures to be bonded.

This ManTech project has developed cost-effective adhesive joining technology for the DD(X). The joint has been designed to carry both structural and combat loads between major composite and steel ship structures. The adhesive bonded joint has been demonstrated to be 40 percent lighter and 50 percent less expensive to produce than the existing bolted joint configuration. The new joint also improves the ship signature and requires less in-service maintenance.

The shipyards (Bath Iron Works and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems) have been active team members and participants in all aspects of the project since inception, and the project has been responsive to the Design Agent at every significant step of project execution. Full scale test articles were built at the shipyard under normal shipyard operating conditions to ensure that manufacture and implementation is fully within the capability of the shipyards and their manufacturing personnel. The bonded joint has been selected as the baseline for attachment of the composite deckhouse to steel hull. Engineering change activities are currently underway to incorporate the bonded joint into design drawings and manufacturing procedures for integration of the composite deckhouse to the DD(X) Flight I ship structure.

This project provides a new manufacturing capability that will have a profound impact on all future surface ship platforms where large composite structures are to be integrated with ship steel structure. The technology developed through this ManTech project will be the cornerstone for composite ship design for future generations of Navy ships.

The project team includes Naval Surface Warfare Center - Carderock, Bath Iron Works, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, the Composites Manufacturing Technology Center of Excellence (South Carolina Research Authority), Penn State University Applied Research Lab, Boeing (Phantom Works), and the Navy Joining Center (Managed by Edison Welding Institute).

Government / Industry Team Members:

2005 Defense Manufacturing Technology Achievement Award Nominees

The manufacturing technology project nominees that were considered for the seventh annual award were completed and/or demonstrated in FY05 or FY06. The nominees were:

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