Navy surveys U.S. prime defense contractors for EA-18G jet electronic warfare (EW) low-band jammer pod

The Navy wants a prime U.S. defense contractor to develop a low-band tactical RF jammer pod to help the EA-18G foil enemy counter-stealth radar systems.

May 16th, 2019
Ea 18 G 16 May 2019
Navy photo

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy aerial electronic warfare (EW) experts are reaching out to prime U.S. defense contractors to see who could develop 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 request for information (NGJLBINC2_RFI_051519) on Wednesday related to the Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) program.

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.

The Government seeks information from potential NGJ-LB prime contractors on their abilities to develop a complete NGJ-LB pod solution.

Related: L-3 and Northrop Grumman to upgrade prototype Navy low-band jammers to foil enemy anti-stealth radar

Naval Air Systems Command wants technical and budgetary information to refine the Government's requirements for Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) initial operational prototypes.

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 through contracts announced last month.

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.

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

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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.

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.

Related: EA-18G designers blend new and existing technology for new electronic warfare jet

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.

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.

Related: Electronic warfare transmitters from Cobham chosen for radar jammers aboard Navy EA-18G jets

This next step now seeks to determine which U.S. prime contractor could develop a pod-level solution for the NGJ-LB aboard the F/A-18G Navy EW jet. Only prime U.S. contractors with classified facility clearances can participate in this program.

For the latest phase of this project, Navy officials say they plan to spend $14 million in 2020, $95 million in 2021, and unspecified amounts from 2022 to 2025. From interested companies, the Navy now wants statements of technical capabilities and budget estimates.

Companies interested should notify the Navy of their interest by emailing the Navy's Sara Littleton no later than 22 May 2019 at sarah.littleton@navy.mil.

Related: Two companies to help Navy develop SWaP low-band radar jammers to clear the way for stealth aircraft

Responses concerning schedule and technical data are due by 17 June 2019, while responses on budgetary estimates are due by 8 July 2019. Send unclassified responses by post or by courier to Contracting Officer Marisa Scruggs care of 47123 Buse Road, Bldg. 2272, Suite 453, Patuxent River, MD 20670.

Send classified responses by post or by courier with the outer envelope addressed: Department of the Navy, Program Executive Officer PMA 234, Tactical Aircraft Programs, 48183 Shaw Road Bldg 2806, Patuxent River, MD 20670-1547. The inner wrap should read DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, PROGRAM EXECUTIVE OFFICER PMA 234, TACTICAL AIRCRAFT PROGRAMS, ATTENTION: ANTHONY CHING, M/F NGJ LOW BAND (INCREMENT 2), 48183 SHAW ROAD, BLDG 2806, PATUXENT RIVER, MD 20670-1547.

For questions or concerns contact the Navy's Sarah Littleton by email at sarah.littleton@navy.mil, or by phone at 301-757-5522.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/DON/NAVAIR/N00019/NGJLBINC2_RFI_051519/listing.html.

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