Next Generation Jammer
The Next Generation Jammer is a program to develop an airborne electronic warfare system, as a replacement for the AN/ALQ-99 found on the EA-18G military aircraft. It will reach Initial Operating Capability in 2021.
The AN/ALQ-99 is currently mounted on the EA-18G Growler aircraft of the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force, as well as the now-retired EA-6B Prowler aircraft belonging to the U.S. Marine Corps.
In the primary role of suppression of air defenses, these aircraft are to provide modified escort jamming from outside the range of known surface to air missiles.
The poor reliability of the ALQ-99 and frequent failures of the Built In Test (BIT) have caused crew to fly missions with undetected faults; the ALQ-99 also interferes with the aircraft's AESA radar, reduces the top speed of the aircraft and imposes a high workload on the two man crew.
The United States Marine Corps is considering replacing their Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler electronic attack aircraft with F-35s that have stealthy jammer pods attached. On 30 September 2008, the United States Navy outlined the basic requirements of the NGJ and stated that the design must be modular and open. The Navy has selected four companies to submit designs for the Next Generation Jammer. The NGJ will also have cyber attack capabilities where the AESA radar is used to insert tailored data streams into remote systems. The ITT-Boeing design for the NGJ includes six AESA arrays for all around coverage. The team has been awarded a $42 million contract to develop their design based on ITT's experience with broadband electronically steerable antenna arrays. At the same time contracts were also awarded to Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.
After having existing jamming platforms thinly stretched over three wars during Operation Odyssey Dawn, the Navy accelerated the NGJ program and anticipated a vendor selection in 2013 instead of 2015 as previously planned.
The Office of Naval Research has started a Next-Generation Airborne Electronic Attack (NGAEA) project to develop technologies for the NGJ.
The system was expected to be fielded (on the Growler) by 2020, but budget cuts pushed IOC to 2021. Tom Burbage of Lockheed Martin has said that the NGJ would be carried by his company's F-35 in 2022 or 2023. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos has said that unlike previous generations of aircraft, the base EW systems in the standard F-35 will allow it to just attach the pods and perform the mission, without having to make a special electronic warfare version of the F-35.
On July 8, 2013 it was announced by Navair that the $279 million Technical Development (TD) phase of the contract had been awarded to Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. On 26 July 2013, the Navy issued Raytheon a stop-work order, following a formal protest of the contract by BAE Systems. On 18 December 2013, the Government Accountability Office upheld the protest, claiming they found that the Navy used improper procedures to select Raytheon. The Navy examined the issue and continued with Raytheon.
In 2013 Boeing invested their own funds in a series of upgrades that they believe will be needed for the Growler to field the NGJ.
After a successful System Readiness Review in June 2014, Raytheon expects to move forward with flight testing in September 2014 and an IOC of late 2020. The test was flown in November 2014. The pod operates independently of the aircraft's systems, automatically responding to identified threats. One unique aspect of the NGJ is that its AESA array combines EW, coms, radar, and signals intelligence; AESA is known to perform EW and radar, but also handling SIGINT and serving as a communications array are new capabilities. Other than dedicated EW aircraft, the pods can be installed on other platforms like the UCLASS with little modification.
The Royal Australian Air Force is contributing $250 million towards the NGJ program, and is directly participating in its development.
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