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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.