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Self-protection Device Testing on KC-135: Northrop Grumman announced Monday that it is evaluating the operational utility of its Guardian aircraft-self-protection system on an Air National Guard KC-135 tanker. The Guardian is a podded system incorporating Northrop's AN/AAQ-24(V) infrared countermeasures device that is mounted on the underside of the KC-135's fuselage. It operates by detecting shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles and then directing a non-visible, eye-safe laser to the seeker head of the incoming missile to disrupt its guidance signals. "The Guardian system is ideal for protecting legacy aircraft such as the KC-135," said Carl Smith, Northrop's vice president of infrared countermeasures. He added, "The pod is easily transferred from one aircraft to another in about 30 minutes." The KC-135's modifications began last November at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kan. Ground testing with Guardian began on Jan. 12. Flight testing is set to begin on Wednesday, with the evaluation scheduled for completion in mid-March.