Navy prepares electronic warfare (EW) competition to develop new low-band component of aircraft jammer pod

Navy to develop a low-band jammer as soon as possible in effort to replace the ALQ-99 jammer pod on the EA-18G Growler carrier electronic attack jet.

Ngj Pod 2 July 2019

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy aerial electronic warfare (EW) experts are taking the next step in developing a complete pod solution for low-band tactical RF jammers intended to enable Navy EA-18G Growler carrier-based aircraft to foil enemy counter-stealth radar systems.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., issued a solicitation on Monday (N00019-19-R-0069) for the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Low Band (LB) Capability Block 1 (CB1) project.

The NGJ-LB program is a Department of Defense (DoD) program intended to replace the aging ALQ-99 tactical jammer pod on the EA-18G Growler carrier-based airborne electronic attack jet. The Navy wants to develop a low-band tactical jammer as soon as possible.

Monday's announcement reveals Navy plans to issue a formal request for proposals this fall to design and build two captive mass model aeromechanical pods, four jettison mass model pods, two mission system prototype test pods, eight operational prototype pods, and two technique development stations to deliver a complete solution for low band capability. Navy officials say they plan to award a contract for the NGJ-LB Capability Block 1 project in fall 2020.

Related: Electronic warfare (EW) upgrades to enhance electronic attack capability of EA-18G Growler

Two companies, L-3 Technologies Communications Systems-West in Salt Lake City; and the Northrop Grumman Corp. Mission Systems segment in Bethpage, N.Y., already are working on the Navy's low-band NGJ-LB project for the Growler aircraft through contracts announced in April.

L-3 and Northrop Grumman are working on the NGJ-LB Increment 2 Demonstration of Existing Technologies (DET) project, which aims to increase the Navy's knowledge and understanding of existing technologies able to support an airborne wideband low radio frequency (RF) band jamming application where significant SWaP and cooling constraints exist, such as those on the EA-18G.

The NGJ-LB program is an urgent effort to develop low-band tactical radar jammers using existing technologies for low size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP) applications on the EA-18G Growler EW jet.

The NGJ-LB Increment 2 Demonstration of Existing Technologies (DET), which L-3 and Northrop Grumman are working on, aims to increase the Navy's knowledge and understanding of existing technologies able to support an airborne wideband low radio frequency (RF) band jamming application where significant SWaP and cooling constraints exist, such as those on the EA-18G.

Related: Raytheon wins billion-dollar contract to build 15 NGJ airborne electronic warfare (EW) pods

EW experts at L-3 and Northrop Grumman are expanding their analyses and design NGJ-LB controller, receiver, exciter (CRE), and power generation subsystems to carry out updated Navy program goals. L-3 and Northrop Grumman won initial contracts for the NGJ-LB project last October.

Low-band anti-stealth radar can be useful for detecting stealth aircraft like the U.S. F-35 joint strike fighter and B-2 bomber, and is needed urgently for the EA-18G, which virtually is the only dedicated electronic warfare aircraft in the U.S. inventory.

L-3 and Northrop Grumman also are helping the Navy use open-systems architectures -- particularly the ability to upgrade tactical jammer subsystems easily -- to enhance the long term system viability of a future low-band tactical jammer -- and upgrade the system as necessary to keep pace with evolving threats. Navy officials say they want to develop and field a SWaP-optimized low-band tactical airborne jammer as soon as feasibly possible.

The contractors are helping the Navy determine the milestone entry point for introducing low-band tactical jammer technologies to the Next-Generation Jammer, which is to replace the aging ALQ-99 tactical jammer on the EA-18G aircraft for airborne electronic attack.

Related: Electronics maintenance contract is perhaps the last one for EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare (EW) jet

The goal is to develop system-level alternatives for the best possible maritime electronic warfare capabilities, while making the most of existing and projected technologies.

Specifically, L-3 and Northrop Grumman are demonstrating a low-SWaP transmitter in a pod that will fit on Station 6 of the EA-18G; enhance the performance of frequency coverage, effective isotropic radiated power, spatial coverage, spectral purity, and polarization; obtain existing contractor data related to transmitter group performance; and assess the potential to deploy an open-systems interim pod solution rapidly.

The Navy will demonstrate these technologies on station 6 of the F/A-18E used as a surrogate for the EA-18G aircraft at Patuxent River NAS for antenna and radar cross section measurement.

More information on the upcoming NGJ-LB competition is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DON/NAVAIR/N00019/N00019-19-R-0069/listing.html.

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