B-1’s Defensive Avionics Getting New Guts
The AN/ALQ-161A Defensive Avionics System on the B-1B bomber is supposed to identify, acquire, and defeat enemy radars and missiles. It was to be a very sophisticated jamming system, with 360-degree receive and jamming coverage plus a Tail Warning Function (TWF) to check six. The Electronic Counter-Measures (ECM) system would sort threats by priority and react against them automatically, even recognizing when it might be dangerous to use ECM and limiting its jamming to specific directions for the minimum required time. The system had very serious technical problems during its development, however, resulting in 2 full-scale recovery programs, over $1 billion invested in fixes, and an acknowledgment that the ALQ-161 would never really meet its original performance specifications. The system was fielded in the mid-1980s in the Mod 0 hardware configuration, and several software modifications have improved system performance since then – most recently in the very successful B-1B Block C upgrades.
Of course, software and hardware are symbiotes. A series of recent contracts indicate that the AN/ALQ-161’s hardware may also be headed for some improvements:
Contracts & Key Events
March 9/07: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Owego, NY received a $22.1 million firm-fixed-price contract to produce replacement preprocessor avionics central unit computers for the AN/ALQ-161A system. Solicitations and negotiations were complete February 2007, and work will be complete May 2008. The Headquarters Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, GA issued the contract (FA8523-07-C-0007).
March 9/07: EDO Corp. in North Amityville, NY received a $12.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for production of digital RF memory upgrades to the AN/ALQ-161A system. The advanced Digital Radar Frequency Memory (DRFM) technique generator is a key component of the defensive suite. Its function is to store threatening signals and then reproduce them in a manner that deceives enemy radars.
Solicitations began January 2007, negotiations were complete February 2007, and work will be complete in December 2007. The Headquarters Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, GA issued the contract (FA8523-07-C-0006). See EDO’s AN/ALQ-161 page and press release.
Sept 27/06: EDO Corp. Marine and Aircraft Systems in North Amityville, NY received a $10.2 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for the repair of 6 different line replaceable units in support of the AN/ALQ-161A system. The contract includes 2 one-year option periods. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Solicitations began July 2006, negotiations were complete August 2006, and work will be complete December 2006. The Headquarters Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, GA issued the contract (FA8523-06-D-0009).