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The baseline F-35 strike fighter doesn't have a directed infrared countermeasures system to protect it against heat-seeking missiles, but Northrop Grumman announced last month it is readying a system called "Threat Nullification Defensive Resource," or ThNDR, in anticipation that a requirement for a countermeasure system will emerge. "The timing is in question" as to when the services will seek such a system, said Jeffrey Palombo, who oversees the company's self-protection systems, at a press briefing in mid-September in Washington, D.C. Given the "timeline for designing, verifying these systems, you've got to get a head start," and Northrop Grumman is investing its own money to develop it, he said. Palombo speculated that a DIRCM wasn't part of the baseline F-35 requirements because typically in such programs "there's a 'want' list . . . a 'must-have' list, and a 'waiting priority' list," and program officials assessed that DIRCM wasn't needed against the threats that initial F-35s would face. But it "absolutely" will be, he said at the Sept. 12 event, adding that ThNDR could be installed on the production line or retrofitted on early production F-35s. He also sees a market to equip F-15s, F-16s, and other fighters with it.