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Northrop Developing Advanced IR Countermeasure for Light Helicopters: A light-weight version of Northrop Grumman's Direct Infrared Counter-Measures (DIRCM) system is currently under development for the small combat helicopters most vulnerable to Man-Portable Air Defense (MANPAD) systems in combat theaters such as Afghanistan, said company officials during AFA's Air & Space Conference Tuesday. Helicopters such as the Air Force's HH-60 currently relies on flare countermeasures for infrared self defense, often ineffective against modern MANPAD threats. Northrop officials said DIRCM's laser-based system offers more effective, non-expendable, IR countermeasures, greatly enhancing survivability and dependability. And, they said the modularity of the Common Infrared Countermeasures system permits easy upgrade and integration. Northrop is continuing development toward a single-system, multi-functional suite providing integrated threat, warning, protection, and situational awareness. Existing versions of the system equip larger US and allied aircraft including Royal Air Force C-17s and US Air Force CV-22s.