U.S. Navy Releases Draft RFP for Next Generation Jammer

AIN Defense Perspective » May 4, 2012
Growler
The U.S. Navy plans to achieve initial operational capability of the Next Generation Jammer on the EA-18G Growler in 2020. (Photo: Boeing)
May 4, 2012, 2:05 PM

The U.S. Navy released a draft request for proposals (RFP) last month for its future airborne electronic warfare system, the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ), signaling a shift in the $2 billion program to the technology development phase. Contained in under-wing pods on the Navy’s EA-18G Growler, the NGJ will suppress advanced, integrated air defenses, communications systems, datalinks and other threats, replacing the long-serving AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming system on the Boeing EA-18G and retiring Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers.

The Navy has accelerated the development program and plans to introduce the new jammer in 2020, with ensuing block upgrades to cover additional radio frequency bands. Plans to integrate the jammer on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have been shelved due to delays in that program.

Four contractor teams–ITT Exelis and partner Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE Systems–each received contracts in July 2010 for the NGJ technology maturation phase that is concluding. The Navy plans to award contracts to a single contractor for the technology development (TD) phase next year, followed by engineering and manufacturing development of the jammer in 2015. The service said it expects to release a formal RFP for the TD phase in mid-June.

The competing teams are known to have incorporated broadband, electronically scanned antenna arrays in their proposed solutions. The NGJ program will also advance the technology readiness of high-power RF amplifiers, beam formers and advanced exciters, which optimize jamming signals. The chosen contractor for the TD phase will be required to mature and demonstrate critical technologies, complete the system architecture and delineate subsystem requirements. The block approach calls for introducing mid-band frequency jamming initial operational capability in 2020, low-band in 2022 and high-band in 2024.

On April 16, ITT Exelis and Boeing said they were ending their joint development efforts “based on recent acquisition changes and streamlining” of the NGJ program, which originally planned to choose two contractors for the TD phase. “The Exelis-Boeing NGJ team has concluded that to best serve the U.S. Navy’s overall electronic attack capability objectives, Exelis will continue to focus on developing technologies critical to the NGJ program. Boeing will concentrate its efforts on integration of the jammer on the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.”

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Guest
on May 14, 2012 - 7:40am

The EA-18G Growler is a wrong aircraft for Australia and its a waste. This aircraft is based on the F/A-18F variant which lacks the range, persistance and survivability to support the strike platforms that penetrate deep into contested airspace. In an assessment of a 2012 Major Combat Operations, the Institude for Defence Analyses determined that the EA-18G was not designed to survive with in defended airspace and thus must provide AEA from standoff distances, a concept of operations that is ill-suited for supporting penetrating strike platforms.

Not only cannot the EA-18G keep up with a strike package, but it isn’t designed to survive combat against today’s 2012 benchmark threats of Su-30s / S-300s. So what about tomorrow’s threats like the Su-35S Super Flanker-E /
S-400 and the T-50 PAK-FA / S-500 in the near to mid term?

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Guest
on May 14, 2012 - 7:43am

The EA-18G Growler is a wrong aircraft for Australia and its a waste. This aircraft is based on the F/A-18F variant which lacks the range, persistance and survivability to support the strike platforms that penetrate deep into contested airspace. In an assessment of a 2012 Major Combat Operations, the Institude for Defence Analyses determined that the EA-18G was not designed to survive with in defended airspace and thus must provide AEA from standoff distances, a concept of operations that is ill-suited for supporting penetrating strike platforms.

Not only cannot the EA-18G keep up with a strike package, but it isn’t designed to survive combat against today’s 2012 benchmark threats of Su-30s / S-300s. So what about tomorrow’s threats like the Su-35S Super Flanker-E /S-400 and the T-50 PAK-FA / S-500 in the near to mid term?

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Aussie Digger
on August 23, 2012 - 11:47pm

Dear Guest, that's an interesting insight. Which platforms does Australia operate, or plan to operate, that feature the "range, persistance and survivability to support the strike platforms that penetrate deep into contested airspace" that apparently the F/A-18F is so lacking in, exactly?

With all due respect to the "Institude for Defence Analyses" analysing a standoff jamming aircraft and determining that it's best suited to the "standoff jamming role" seems just a tad er, obvious...

Perhaps a bit of critical thinking wouldn't go astray?

So the Growler cannot keep up with strike packages eh? That must be news to the sole operator of the Growler, the US Navy. Obviously it's strike packages are no more, eh? Because EA-18G have accompanied all the USN strike packages in recent years. Apparently they've given the whole thing away now, have they?

I think, if one were to actually ask them, they might just venture a slightly different opinion on this subject. For example, here is a video showing a mass recovery of a strike package comprising F-22, F-15E, EA-18G, a GR-4 Tornado and a KC-135 refueller at Red Flag.

http://youtu.be/UK2Gb81Sqec

Now if your contention was true, I imagine the aviators at Red Flag, would have noticed the EA-18G's inability to "keep up with" the strike package during it's exercise and operational commitments (including live missions over Libya) conducted to date, given even KC-135's can apparently.

That this lack of ability to "keep up" hasn't been noticed outside the world of certain blogs, is an interesting perspective on the oft repeated claim of "indifference to what is real"...

No Avatar
Guest
on October 24, 2012 - 7:33am

Hello Aussie Digger

"With all due respect to the "Institude for Defence Analyses" analysing a standoff jamming aircraft and determining that it's best suited to the "standoff jamming role" seems just a tad er, obvious..."

"Now if your contention was true, I imagine the aviators at Red Flag, would have noticed the EA-18G's inability to "keep up with" the strike package during it's exercise and operational commitments (including live missions over Libya) conducted to date, given even KC-135's can apparently".

Yes, I also can imagine the aviators at Red Flag, would be disappointed when they will see my analysis about the EA-18G's inability to survive combat against today’s 2012 benchmark threats and tomorrows future threats and can't "keep up with" the strike package.

The only thing that the EA-18G will be capable of doing is be able to do some damage against the legacy Soviet made integrated air defenses (IADS). It won’t be providing the bang for the buck the U.S. Navy wanted for future threats. Since the aircraft is an escort jammer and not a stand-off jammer, it will be at some serious risk if it gets too close to modern and extremely powerful Russian/Chinese IADS.

The poor reliability of the ALQ-99 and frequent failures of the Built In self Test (BIT) have caused crew to fly missions with real faults; the ALQ-99 also interferes with the aircraft’s APG-79 AESA radar, hanging a lot of drag which increases weight, reduces the top speed of the aircraft, and imposes a high workload on the two man crew when employed in the Growler that doesn’t do it any favours.

So, like the original Super Hornet introduction to the fleet, Growler will be on an upgrade spiral for some time to come. As delivered to the fleet, it will be yesterday’s jammer.

The newer Su-30/35 Flankers for instance carry the podded wingtip mounted KNIRTI SPS-171 / L005S Sorbtsiya-S mid/high band defensive jammer, this system being an evolution of a jammer developed for the Tu-22M3 Backfire C. The Sorbtsiya-S, unlike most Western jamming pods, is designed to operate in pairs and uses forward and aft looking steerable wideband phased arrays to maximise jamming effect. It is worth observing that the Sorbtsiya is clearly built to provide cross-eye jamming modes against monopulse threats, and the wideband mainlobe steering capability provided by the phased array permits best possible utilisation of available jamming power. A graded dielectric lens is employed. Russian contractors have been using Digital RF Memory (DRFM) technology, which is of the same generation as Super Hornet EWSP. The Super Hornet does not have any compelling advantage in EWSP capability.

Okay, is the "next generation jammer" going to replace the existing ALQ-99 jamming pods?

The NGJ program may show up. However in these very tight budget times, the U.S. Navy getting bled white by outrageously expensive defense projects.

Regards Guest

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