The Naval Sea Systems Command contracted
General Dynamics Mission Systems with a $14.5 million modification to exercise options for Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement (SEWIP) Block 1B3 full-rate production. SEWIP is an evolutionary acquisition and incremental development program to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32(V) electronic warfare system. The AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare Suite or „slick-32“ is the primary electronic warfare system utilized by the US Navy. The system achieves EW objectives by providing full threat band frequency coverage, instantaneous azimuth coverage, 100 percent probability of intercept and simultaneous response to multiple threats. It can detect aircraft search and target radars well before they detect the ship. SEWIP
provides enhanced shipboard electronic warfare for early detection, analysis, threat warning, and protection from anti-ship missiles. SEWIP Block 1 focuses on obsolescence mitigation and special signal intercept. Work will take place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and is expected to be finished by May next year.
The US Navy’s AN/SLQ-32 ECM (Electronic Countermeasures) system uses radar warning receivers, and in some cases active jamming, as the part of ships’ self-defense system. The “Slick 32s” provides warning of incoming attacks, and is integrated with the ships’ defenses to trigger Rapid Blooming Offboard Chaff (RBOC) and other decoys, which can fire either semi-automatically or on manual direction from a ship’s ECM operators.
The “Slick 32” variants are based on modular building blocks, and each variant is suited to a different type of ship. Most of these systems were designed in the 1970s, however, and are based on 1960s-era technology. Unfortunately, the SLQ-32 was notable for its failure when the USS Stark was hit by Iraqi Exocet missiles in 1987. The systems have been modernized somewhat, but in an era that features more and more supersonic ship-killing missiles, with better radars and advanced electronics, SLQ-32’s fundamental electronic hardware architecture is inadequate. Hence the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP).