The Department of Defense awarded eight defense contracts Friday, worth $294.5 million altogether. The big win of the day went to defense contractor Northrop Grumman (NYSE:NOC), which took home a $234.1 million contract (plus a smaller $8.9 million award) that consumed nearly $4 out of every $5 on offer.

Northrop's big contract came in the form of a contract modification funding the purchase of Large Aircraft Infrared Counter Measures (LAIRCM) hardware, and associated support services for the U.S. Air Force, Air National Guard, and for several foreign governments. Foreign participants in the foreign military sales portion of this contract include Australia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and also the Strategic Airlift Capability-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Airlift Management Programme. Delivery of all hardware and services is due by April 29, 2016.

LAIRCM is one of several programs under development by the Pentagon that are aimed at defending aircraft from surface-to-air missiles (SAMs or, as they're increasingly commonly being called, MANPADS -- for Man-Portable Air Defense Systems). In LAIRCM, Northrop's high-intensity Viper Laser targets and blinds incoming heat-seeking missiles to disable them before they can engage an aircraft on which LAIRCM is installed. The system is currently in use upon Sikorsky CH-53E helicopters, and plans are in place to install it also upon many different kinds of fixed-wing transport aircraft, such as C-17 and C-130 transports, as well as other helicopters.

Northrop also won a smaller contract Friday, worth $8.9 million. This one involved a firm-fixed-price order instructing Northrop to build two sets of AN/ALQ 240 (V) 1 weapons-repairable assemblies for use aboard Navy P-8A aircraft as part of an AN/ALQ 240 Electronic Support Measures Repair Depot standup at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane Division. Delivery of this equipment is due July 2016. 

Northrop Grumman LAIRCM "Guardian" anti-missile defense pod. Photo: Northrop Grumman.


Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Northrop Grumman. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.