Inspector General -Army Needs to More Effectively Prepare for CIRCM Production

Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), and Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) components.

Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM), Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), and Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) components.

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (DoD OIG) has released it's findings related to assessment of the readiness of the Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM) system for production, Report No. DODIG-2017-075, 26 April 2017.

CIRCM integrates defensive IR countermeasures (IRCM) capabilities into existing, current-generation aircraft to engage and defeat man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). The CIRCM system is comprised of a pointer-tracker unit, IR laser, and system processor unit. The system is integrated as part of an aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) suite to protect rotary-wing, tilt‑rotor, and small fixed-wing aircraft against infrared-guided surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles.

In addition to CIRCM, the suite of infrared countermeasures includes a missile warning system (MWS) and an Improved Countermeasure Dispenser (ICMD) for flares and chaff. The Army’s current MWS is the Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) with the third-generation electronic control unit (ECU), which is responsible for detecting and declaring on an IR threat. Both CIRCM and the ICMD receive the handoff from CMWS and provide appropriate countermeasures to defeat the threat.

CIRCM is designed to provide a lightweight solution to replace the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures (ATIRCM) system and enable integration of laser based IR countermeasures onto smaller aircraft.

The objective of the OIG was to determined whether the Army is effectively preparing the CIRCM system for the production phase of the acquisition program.

OIG findings included:

  • The Army could more effectively prepare the CIRCM system for production. Specifically, Army management did not:
    • adequately define firm system capability requirements (what the system must do to meet its mission) and test planning (Finding A), and
    • report progress in meeting system reliability1 and maintainability requirements (Finding C).
  • In addition, Defense Contract Management Agency management had not established surveillance of subcontractor efforts (determining contractor progress and identifying any factors that may delay performance) (Finding B).
  • The Army prepared requirements documents, which communicated system capabilities, and implemented a test plan that does not require CIRCM to demonstrate minimum required system reliability [redacted].
  • [redacted] The delay in the requirement to fully demonstrate minimum reliability occurred because the Army requirements developer did not expect the CIRCM to demonstrate the minimum reliability requirement before the planned full-rate production decision.
  • Additionally, the requirements developer established capability requirements that defined the types of infrared missiles most critical for CIRCM to counter to protect aircraft. However, the CIRCM development document allows the requirements developer and the acquisition milestone decision authority to reclassify missiles listed as primary system requirements to a lower priority. Shortfalls in defining firm counter‑missile performance requirements occurred because the requirements developer did not follow Joint Chiefs of Staff policy requiring that changes to primary system requirements be validated within the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • As a result, without demonstrating minimum required system reliability, more frequent system failures could occur, increasing the costs associated with maintaining the system. [redacted], before demonstrating that CIRCM can be cost effective and mission capable. 

The DoD OIG recommended that:

  • The Chief of the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) update the draft document for capability production of the CIRCM system in order to include the threshold requirement of 214 flight hours prior to full-rate production.
  • The Project Manager Aircraft Survivability Equipment update the master plan for the test and evaluation phase of the CIRCM system and report developments on efforts to achieve system reliability.
  • The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff modify the document with regard to the CIRCM system capability development.