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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2023

Revolutionizing the DOD Systems Infrared Countermeasures Landscape: Mr. Kenneth A. Sarkady Receives Roger L. Easton Award for Engineering Excellence

By Nicholas E. M. Pasquini, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Corporate Communications

Mr. Kenneth A. Sarkady, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) head of the Counter Measure Systems Section received the Roger L. Easton Award for Engineering Excellence for outstanding engineering insight and visionary leadership in the development of a nationally recognized capability in missile warning and infrared countermeasures (IRCM) technology, July 24, 2023.

His contributions to the field have transitioned to a Department of Navy (DoN) program of record as well as other Air Force and Army aircraft self-protection programs.

“I am honored to have been able to work with a team of highly talented scientists, engineers and program managers who worked together to make these achievements possible,” said Sarkady.  “This award is truly a great honor to me but the recognition should really be shared with the many people I have worked with over the years to develop these technologies and systems.”

Through his extensive and intimate experience with the AAR-47 and ALQ-24 threat warning and countermeasures systems, Sarkady’s fundamental and enduring contributions to the field of electro-optic and infrared  (EOIR) threat detection and countermeasures, led him to recognize the Department of Defense’s (DOD) need for a higher-performance, low weight and affordable missile warning and IRCM system.

“The continued support of ONR, NAVAIR, HQ USMC Aviation, N98 and OSD was critical to our successes,” Sarkady said. “Without their programmatic guidance and insights, none of these achievements would have been possible.”
Sarkady currently serves as the senior government advisor for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) Joint Aircraft Survivability Program Office (JASPO). Sarkady is also a member of other DOD programs working to detect and counter advanced threats to DOD aircraft. His knowledge and experience are in high demand by many tri-service and DOD program offices.

“A system was required capable of combining longer detection ranges, lower false alarm rates and the capability to jam and defeat incoming missiles in a small, lightweight, cost-effective package suitable for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps rotary wing aircraft,” said Dr. Crag Hoffman, NRL Optical Sciences Division superintendent. “He developed a system concept to detect hostile fire and jam IR-guided missiles suitable for small and medium rotary wing aircraft and successfully proposed this concept to the Office of Naval Research in September 2006.”

Sarkady led the research and development of this system, which was based on the IR rather than ultra-violet signature of the threat, through several successive ONR-sponsored Future Naval Capabilities programs. He is principal architect and lead program manager for the Distributed Aperture Infrared Countermeasure (DAIRCM) System now being deployed in the fleet as the AAQ-45.

The AAQ-45 incorporates multiple technologies developed by Sarkady’s IRCM Systems Section in collaboration with the Applied Optics Branch of the Optical Sciences Division: including two-color IR Focal Plane Arrays for the threat sensor, missile, and hostile fire detection algorithms, jamming techniques, quantum cascade lasers, and IR fiber optic cables capable of transmitting high optical power.

”Hopefully the technology contributions we have made will result in saving lives and allow our service personnel to return safely home,” Sarkady said.
Sarkady’s efforts ensure NRL research remains on the cutting-edge of the rapidly changing countermeasures field and the DoN and DOD programs are able to seamlessly expand the technical advances made by the IRCM Systems Section and minimize redundancy in DOD programs.

About the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory 

NRL is a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps from the seafloor to space and in the information domain. NRL is located in Washington, D.C., with major field sites in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi, Key West, Florida, and Monterey, California, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel.

For more information, contact NRL Corporate Communications at (202) 480-3746 or

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