RNLAF's F-16, firing countermeasures (flares) during a solo display at Radom Air Show 2005
Fortification, a passive countermeasure

A countermeasure is a measure or action taken to counter or offset another one. As a general concept it implies precision, and is any technological or tactical solution or system (often for a military application) designed to prevent an undesirable outcome in the process. The first known use of the term is in 1923.[1]

Countermeasures can refer to the following disciplinary spectrum:

  • defense
  • medicine
  • materials engineering
  • electro-magnetic engineering
  • policing
  • Information technology
  • Law
  • Diplomatic security
  • Pollution prevention

Defense countermeasures are often subdivided into "active" and "passive" countermeasures.

"Active" countermeasures that alter the electromagnetic, acoustic or other signature(s) of a target thereby altering the tracking and sensing behavior of an incoming threat (e.g., guided missile) are designated softkill measures. Measures that physically counterattack an incoming threat thereby destroying/altering its payload/warhead in such a way that the intended effect on the target is majorly impeded are designated hardkill measures. Both are further described in active protection systems.

"Passive" countermeasures include:

See also


  1. ^ Meriam-Webster Dictionary "Countermeasure" defined

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  • countermeasure — 1923, from COUNTER (Cf. counter ) + MEASURE (Cf. measure) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

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  • countermeasure — noun Date: 1923 an action or device designed to negate or offset another; especially a military system or device intended to thwart a sensing mechanism (as radar) < electronic countermeasures > …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • countermeasure — /kown teuhr mezh euhr/, n. an opposing, offsetting, or retaliatory measure. [1920 25; COUNTER + MEASURE] * * * …   Universalium

  • countermeasure — noun Any action taken to counteract or correct another …   Wiktionary

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