3D Metrology Enables Retrofit of Defense Flares


AICM Retrofit

With the volatile combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a military aircraft’s landing and take-off can be high-risk situations. Seeking to reduce the risks, a major aircraft manufacturer contracted Dimensional Engineering to retrofit a particular plane with an Advanced Infrared Countermeasure Munition (AICM) device.


Dimensional Engineering was tasked with reverse engineering the aircraft from the forward hatch to the nose cone, and from the trailing edge of the wing to the tail cone. We were also contracted to design the outer dispensing shell of the AICM.

We committed to a deadline of only three weeks, knowing that our work could potentially save the lives of many military personnel. We had to work literally around the clock to meet the critical timing. The process required a highly experienced team that understood the complexity of the data collection challenge.

AICM plane

The project entailed scanning the aircraft’s exterior skin and interior structuring using our laser scanner arm and laser tracker from FARO®. We began by creating a coordinate system from targets placed on the aircraft. We could use the targets to leapfrog among multiple positions around the aircraft and inside the fuselage.

The coordinate system was a complex matrix tying the exterior and interior on each side of the aircraft. Combining the laser scanning arm and laser tracker increased our accuracy while having to leapfrog the arm around the aircraft. The laser tracker was able to collect the XYZ positions of the targets in just five moves around the aircraft.

When we had collected enough scan data, it was handed off to a surfacing team. The scanning and surfacing teams acquired data in parallel with the data processing of the scan data.

The smallest of details were tediously collected and surfaced. These included ribs and stringers. Accuracy in detail was critical for the aircraft manufacturer’s structural engineers, so they could design the sub-structure to handle the extreme pressure during the firing of flares.


A total of four AICM dispensers were retrofitted to the aircraft’s outer skin, with a complete mounting structure inside the aircraft. The project was completed before the deadline, and the quality exceeded the client’s highest expectations.