“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?
Raytheon Co. Sensors and Electronic Systems Div. in Goleta, CA is being awarded a $13 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-05-C-0031), exercising an option for the full rate production of 110 integrated multi-platform launch controllers for the ALE-50 Advanced Expendable Airborne Decoy system used by US F-16 Falcon/Viper, F/A-18 Hornet family, and B-1B Lancer heavy bomber aircraft. At least one US pilot who came home safe referred to the ALE-50 as “my little buddy” in a letter to Raytheon.
So, what do you with a “little buddy,” and how does it work?
Lockheed Martin Services Inc. in Greenville, S.C., is being awarded a $7.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0030) for procurement of five defensive electronics countermeasures (DECM) kits and installation of two kits on the KC-130J in-service aircraft. The KC-130J is an aerial refueling variant of the turboprop C-130J Hercules medium transport aircraft. They are operated by the USAF and US Marine Corps, who value their ability to refuel both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters due to their speed range.
Work will be performed in Greenville, S.C., and is expected to be completed in February 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, MD is the contracting activity.
Industry analyst firm Forecast International’s “The Market for Electronic Warfare Systems” predicts that the development and production of leading electronic warfare systems will represent a $28 billion market over the next 10 years. The category includes jammers, radar warning receivers (RWRs), electronic support measure (ESM) systems, and missile countermeasure systems.
Elbit Systems Ltd. reported that its 40%-owned subsidiary, Tadiran Communications Ltd., announced yesterday that it signed an agreement valued at $55 million with “an Asian country.” Under the agreement, Tadiran will provide the customer with “advanced communications systems and equipment.” The firm has already received full advance payment for the first phase of the agreement, under which Tadiran will provide equipment valued at $5.5 million. The remainder of the contract is expected to be performed in three phases during 2006-2007. See corporate release [PDF].
Israeli announcements are often somewhat cryptic, as Arab hostility and anti-Jewish bigotry can create problems for some of their customers. In Singapore, for instance, Israeli military advisers were often described as “Mexicans” during the city-state’s early days. Because of DID’s insistence on attaching detail information to the contracts we cover, however, Israeli contracts tend to be slightly under-reported. Elbit’s subsidiary (now a 100% subsidiary) Elisra’s recent $80 million contract with an unnamed customer for fighter electronic warfare suites [PDF] is an example of something DID tends to pass on covering.
Aviation Week’s Aerospace Daily reports that the U.S. Navy’s EA-18G electronic attack aircraft program is considering pursuing a next-generation jammer and other upgrades that could be fielded on the Super Hornet derivative after it enters service in a few years. Meanwhile, Boeing is starting to survey future users of the EA-18G “Growlers” to find out what upgrades they might like to see after the US Navy starts fielding the Super Hornet derivative in 2009.
While the AN/ALQ-99 radar jamming pod has received positive reviews and will initially equip the EA-18G, the US Navy’s EA-18G program manager says that it might eventually have to be replaced. The program is also exploring adding weapons and replacing the satellite communications receiver, as part of the FY 2008 budget planning process.
ITT Industries of Clifton, NJ received an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract and the first delivery order in the amount of $41.9 million for the production of the AN/ALQ-211 Suite of Integrated Radio Frequency Countermeasures (SIRFC) for MH-47 Chinook helicopters. The award is in support of U.S. Special Operations Command, via its Technology Applications Contracting Office. Work will be performed at the following locations: Clifton, NJ; Norcross, GA; and Landsdale, PA. The work ordered under DO 0001 is expected to be complete in November 2008. The contract was “awarded through other than full and open competition” (H92241-06-D-0001).
Touted as the world’s next-generation stealthy jet fighters and attack aircraft, the F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) may also excel in another area: electronic eavesdropping. The aircrafts’ combination of powerful phased array AESA radars, passive electromagnetic antennas and sensors embedded throughout their frames, powerful onboard computer processing, and secure high-bandwidth communications will give them capabilities once available only to dedicated electronic attack aircraft.
As both of these aircraft programs come under threat of further reductions or cancellation, Pentagon officials are becoming more willing to discuss some of these additional capabilities – and their implications.
Earlier generations of electronic warfare aircraft have taken one of three paths:
The US Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane in Crane, IN issued a pair of firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity/ indefinite-delivery contracts to repair Traveling Wave Tubes (TWTs). TWTs are used in a variety of host aircraft and ships, where they amplify the power of radio signals. This is very useful for radars, and also has applications in electronic warfare equipment.
Computer Systems Technical Support, Inc. in Brea, CA received an $8.2 million firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for Airborne Self-Protection Jammer (ASPJ) harness assembly, structural assembly and hardware sets. In addition to support to the United States (90%), it is anticipated that the contract will support the governments of Switzerland (5%) and Finland (5%) under the Foreign Military Sales program.
The ASPJ is a program with a long and troubled history.