$73.25M to Upgrade EA-6B Prowlers with ALQ-218 Jamming Pods
We couldn’t resist this bit of writing from Military.com SoldierTech’s EA-18G description, covering the existing EA-6B Prowler tactical jamming aircraft:
“The aging Prowler has been in service for 40 years — and it shows — the Prowler is unable to keep up with newer strike aircraft. Chugging along at .72 Mach, it is significantly slower than the fleet aircraft it’s meant to protect, like an elderly grandfather on Halloween escorting trick-or-treaters on a sugar high.”
Well, chug a few espresso, grandpa, because until the EA-18Gs show up, you’re the only tactical jamming aircraft America has got. Make that $73.25 million worth of espresso, via an FY 2006 firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, N.Y. for AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming System Receivers. How many does that cover? What do those do?
The contract covers full rate production (LOT II) of four complete AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming System Receivers (TJSRs). In addition, this contract provides for the procurement of one partial AN/ALQ-218 system and spares. This purchase is the second lot of Improved Capability (ICAP) III systems bought by the Navy. The company will likewise modify fleet Prowlers to install the kits under a separate contract, yet to be awarded.
The ALQ-218 Airborne Electronic Attack suite adds geolocation capabilities and is capable of selective reactive and pre-emptive jamming, which enables its aircraft to electronically attack enemy communications even before their presence is detected. This third generation improved capabilities package is being integrated into the EA-6B Prowlers, and will also serve on the Super Hornet derivative EA-18G Growlers when they enter service in a few years.
Work will be performed in Baltimore, MD (57%), Bethpage, NY (30%); Nashua, NH (8%), and San Diego, CA (5%), and is expected to be completed in September 2009. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, MD (N00019-06-D-0014).
Northrop-Grumman has already delivered 10 Prowler aircraft modified with the new ICAP III system, supporting two fleet squadrons and one fleet readiness squadron of the Electronic Attack Wing in Whidbey Island, WA.
The Navy reached initial operational capability with the first squadron of 4 aircraft in early 2005, and that squadron has since deployed to support operations in Iraq. A second squadron became operational during the summer of 2005, and recently completed Technical Evaluation of the new Multifunction Information Distribution (MIDS) Link 16 system, which will enable ICAP III Prowlers to become key nodes in the Navy’s Sea Power 21 FORCEnet architecture.