Guardian is an anti-missile system designed by the Northrop Grumman Corporation specifically to protect fixed, rotary, and tilt wing aircraft from shoulder-launched missiles (commonly known as MANPADS), using directed infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) technology. Upon detection of a launched missile, the system directs a multi band laser onto the seeker head of the incoming missile, disrupting its guidance signal and diverting its flight path. Guardian is designed to operate autonomously, without input from the flight crew.
Ball Aerospace provides Tactical Fast Steering Mirrors (TFSMs) for the Guardian program. The TSFM is used to provide rapid fine pointing and compensate for jitter in Guardian’s adaptive optics system. Ball’s TFSMs rely on technology refined since the company first began design and development in 1983 of one-off, custom fast steering mirrors. Ball’s mechanism design differs from other technologies due to its patented suspension which provides two-axis rotation that effectively eliminates jitter due to vibration environments. In addition, the ruggedized TFSM is also lightweight for optimal performance and adapted for tactical environments.
Ball Aerospace has designed and produced more than 50 unique Fast Steering Mirror designs in the past 25 years incorporating a range of digital and analog controllers, as well as a variety of substrate materials and coating technologies. The mirrors’ responsiveness and high accuracy have made them a key component for numerous applications such as laser communications, astronomical telescopes, Earth-observation surveillance satellites, gimbaled sensors and high-energy laser systems.