The US Navy owns the only operational tactical jamming fighters in the world, but the AN/ALQ-99 pods they depend on use analog technologies, are hard to maintain, and have reliability issues. All-digital technologies and modern transmit/receive electronics offer huge leaps ahead in capability and availability, which is why the US military is working on a Next-Generation Jammer (NGJ) replacement for the pods on its tactical strike aircraft.
The EA-18G Growler will be the NGJ’s first platform, but the flexibility of modern technologies mean that it may not be the last.
Next-Gen Jammer: The Program
The current jamming system used in the Fleet is the AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS), which Northrop Grumman has modernized to the ICAP III standard. The overall system was designed in the late 1960s, and fielded with the introduction of the EA-6 Prowler in 1971.
The same pods (2 mid-band, 1 low-band) equip US Navy EA-18G Growler fighters, which began delivery to the fleet in 2008.
A 2002 Airborne Electronic Attack System of Systems Analysis of Alternatives (AEA SoS AoA) determined a compelling need to move beyond the ALQ-99’s capabilities and maintenance record. The US Navy began funding in FY 2010, and aims to develop an NGJ mid-band system for that will enter low-rate production in 2018. Fielding to the US Navy would begin in 2020. The current timeline is:
The broader aim is to develop a more cost effective AEA system with better performance against advanced threats through expanded broadband capability for greater threat coverage against a wider variety of radio frequency emitters, faster collect-analyze-jam loops, more flexibility in terms of jamming profiles that can change in flight, better precision within jamming assignments, and more interoperability.
The 1st step is to replace the mid-band ALQ-99 pods on US Navy EA-18Gs. NGJ Increment 1 would offer better mid-band jamming capabilities, where most current threats reside, at reduced operations and sustainment cost. Digital technologies offer easier upgrades, and the 1st NGJ increment also emphasizes a Modular, Open System Approach (MOSA) to the electronics, in order to lay those foundations for future improvements and deployments.
The AN/ALQ-99 low-band pod on the centerline was recently modernized, and is expected to remain in the fleet for some time, but NGJ is eventually expected to add those functions as Increment 2. Whether this will be done as a separate pod, or integrated into the existing NGJ, is undetermined. Later Increment 3 upgrades are expected to add higher band jamming capabilities, which the Navy doesn’t currently possess.
Future deployments may involve thinking beyond the pod. The eventual goal for the next-generation jammer involves moving beyond the EA-18, and becoming a modular set of gear that could be installed in F-35 variants, or in other aircraft. Larger planes like bombers and special mission EC-130 Hercules could certainly benefit from a modern jamming option.
So, too, could stealth fighters, who would have their cover completely blown by EA-18Gs alongside. Or by pods hanging from their wings. Configuring future NGJ options for internal carriage on stealth fighters could benefit other platforms, too, but initial estimates for F-35 integration costs were very high.
That has led the US Navy to focus on the EA-18G. With a 2020 fielding date expected, senior sources have indicated that it could take until the late 2020s for the US military to look at internal/F-35 integration again. That will leave the USMC’s 4 EA-6B squadrons without an in-service replacement as they retire, shifting the AEA mission entirely to the Navy. There has been some talk of using UAVs as an interim step, and jet-powered MALD-J loiter & jam decoys could be integrated with USMC fighters if the service believes that they needed an interim capability.
Then there’s the question of exports.
In 2012, Australia became the 1st American ally to select a tactical jamming fighter. Forthcoming orders will buy both 12 new EA-18 fighters, and a full set of their accompanying ALQ-99 pods and equipment. Australia will be interested in next-generation jamming pods for the same reliability and performance reasons that they interest the US Navy. Outside of co-development programs, however, clearance for export discussions usually isn’t available until Milestone C allows low-rate production.
If, indeed, the new pods are made available to Australia at all. They remain one of the USA’s closest allies, but new tactical jamming technology tends to be especially sensitive.
Next-Gen Jammer: Budgets
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2014 – 2022
GAO protest sustained, but Raytheon wins again.
March 3/22: Support Boeing won a $17.7 million contract modification, which increases the scope to procure the necessary test and engineering support to complete the development of the Next Generation Jammer – Mid-Band system and the phased replacement of the AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System currently mounted to the EA-18G aircraft. The AN/ALQ-99 intercepts and automatically processes radar signals and power manages the system’s transmitters to effectively jam large numbers of diverse radar threats with very high effective radiated power. The AN/ALQ-249(V)1 Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) system is part of a larger NGJ system that will augment, and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) currently used on the EA-18G Growler aircraft for Airborne Electronic Attack. Work will take place in Missouri and Maryland. Estimated completion will be in February 2023.
December 16/21: Development Raytheon won a $13.9 million deal to procure contractor logistics support maintainers and engineering reach back support of the AN/ALQ-249(V)1 Next Generation Jammer-Mid Band (NGJ-MB) during development, test and evaluation. The AN/ALQ-249(V)1 Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band system is part of a larger NGJ system that will augment, and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System currently used on the EA-18G Growler aircraft for Airborne Electronic Attack. Work will take place in Maryland and California. Estimated completion date is in June 2023.
July 2/21: LRIP The Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) will enter Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) after obtaining Milestone C approval on June 28. The NGJ-MB will replace the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System on the EA-18G, it has flown for more than 145 hours. The US Navy is working with the Royal Australian Air Force to develop the NGJ-MB.
February 26/21: NGJ Boeing won an $11.6 million contract modification, which adds scope for engineering services in support of Next Generation Jammer software development. Next Generation Jammer, an external jamming pod, will address advanced and emerging threats alike, as well as the growing numbers of threats. NGJ uses the latest digital, software-based and Active Electronically Scanned Array technologies and will provide enhanced airborne electronic attack capabilities to disrupt and degrade enemy air defense and ground communication systems. Work will take place in St. Louis, Missouri. Expected completion will be in December 2021.
August 12/20: Flight Under Growler Wing The Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) flew for the first time on August 7 under the right wing of a EA-18G from VX-23. Lt. Jonathan Williams, VX-23 test pilot, says the new pod imposed negligible handling issues with the Growler. The first flight, conducted by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, is a Safety of Flight (SOF) checkout that ensures the pods can be safely flown on the EA-18G aircraft for follow-on test flights.
August 28/19: Engineering, Manufacturing and Development Phase Raytheon won a $74.1 million contract modification that procures pre-operational support for the Next Generation Jammer-Mid Band pod through the completion of the engineering, manufacturing and development phase as well as development, test and evaluation activities. Procured support includes organizational-level maintenance, repair, supply chain management, and material support for equipment delivered under the EMD contract, and associated peculiar support equipment/test, measurement, and diagnostic equipment to support DT&E. According to the company, Raytheon’s Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band is an advanced electronic attack system that denies, disrupts and degrades enemy technology, including communication tools and air-defense systems. Raytheon delivered the first NGJ-MB pod to the US Navy for testing in July of 2019. The technology can also be scaled to other missions and platforms. It was the first of 15 EMD pods to be delivered to the USN for mission systems testing and qualification. The company will also deliver 14 aero-mechanical pods for airworthiness certification. Under the contract modification, Raytheon will perform work in Mississippi, Texas, California, Massachusetts, and Indiana. Estimated completion date is in December 2021.
May 10/19: L2 and Northrop Modifications L3 Technologies and Northrop Grumman each won contract modifications in support of the Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ LB) controller, receiver, exciter, and power generation subsystems. NGJ-LB is an external radar and communications jamming pod that is carried underneath an aircraft and is part of a larger series of weapon systems contracts that are planned to ultimately replace the aging ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System currently used on Boeing EA-18G Growlers. The Navy awarded both companies more then $13 million for the modifications, which also provide for NGJ LB technique development, incorporation of updated goals documents, and environmental testing of the transmitter group. In October, L3 and Northrop won two separate $36 million technology demonstration contracts for the NGJ LB. Work by both companies is scheduled to be completed in June next year.
October 29/18: L3 develops L3 Technologies is being contracted to advance its prototype developed under the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) program. The awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is priced at $35.8 million and provides for the demonstration and test of existing technologies and associated technical data for L3’s NGJ low-band prototype. The NGJ program will eventually replace the AN/ALQ-99 jamming system currently installed on the EA-18G Growler. The broader aim is to develop a more cost effective AEA system with better performance against advanced threats through expanded broadband capability for greater threat coverage. Work will be performed at multiple locations including – but not limited to – Salt Lake City, Utah; Boulder, Colorado and Waco, Texas. L3’s is expected to complete this contract in June 2020.
January 3/17: Boeing will provide Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) integration services for the US Navy’s EA-18G aircraft in a deal worth $308 million. Work ordered in the contract includes the program’s engineering phase, as well as the design and manufacturing tasks for 12 ECP 6472 kits, NGJ pod testing, and additional supporting equipment. The NGJ is a Raytheon-led effort to improve airborne electronic warfare capabilities while replacing the existing AN/ALQ-99 pods used by EA-18G Growler aircraft. Industry partners are aiming to reach initial operating capability for the new pods in 2021.
April 15/16: Raytheon has won a $1.01 billion contract for the design, manufacture, integration, demonstration, and test of 15 Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) engineering development model pods. The contract is in support of the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the NGJ program, a pod-based tactical jammer that replaces the 40-plus-year ALQ-99 jammer system on the EA-18G aircraft. Raytheon will also manufacture 14 NGJ aero-mechanical test pods, which will be used to verify aircraft flying qualities and pod safe separation from the host aircraft; provide equipment needed for system integration laboratories; and mature manufacturing processes.
April 13/16: The Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Increment 1 (Inc 1) has been approved to enter the Engineering & Manufacturing Development Phase. The announcement was made after the approval by Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, on April 5. During the EMD phase, the pod will undergo further development prior to a system-level critical design review in early- to mid-2017 and then eventual production. Once produced, the pod will replace the AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming system currently integrated on the EA-18G GROWLER aircraft.
November 16/15: Raytheon has announced its completion of the US Navy’s Preliminary Design Review for its Next Generation Jammer program. The NGJ is set to replace the ALQ-99 jamming pods on the EA-18G and it is hoped to have reached operational capabilities by 2021.
July 14/14: Testing. At Farnborough 2014, Raytheon officials say that they’re preparing to fly a prototype Next-Generation Jammer pod aboard a Gulfstream jet in September 2014. Sources: DefenseTech, “http://defensetech.org/2014/07/14/raytheon-prep-to-test-new-electronic-jammer/”.
April 23/14: TD Phase. Raytheon in El Segundo, CA receives a $12.6 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification to provide additional funding for NGJ’s Technology Development Phase.
$10 million is committed immediately, using FY 2014 RDT&E budgets. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (63%); Dallas, TX (21%); and Fort Wayne, IN (16%), and is expected to be complete in February 2016. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-13-C-0128).
April 1/14: GaN R&D. Raytheon announces that its efforts to replace conventional Silicon Carbide chip substrates with synthetic diamond have taken a step forward, thanks to the DARPA Thermal Management Technologies program’s Near Junction Thermal Transport project. Diamond offers 3-5x higher heat conductivity, allowing a 3x increase in transistor power density without frying the circuit. The NGJ will be using GaN circuits, and that kind of power boost would be a huge help.
Data was obtained using a 0.1 mm x 1.25 mm GaN on diamond HEMT, a device representing a unit cell for constructing Power Amplifier MMICs (Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits) that serve as foundations for solid-state RF transmitters and AESA electronics. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon hits another major milestone with GaN”.
March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish.
NGJ’s estimated program total is FY14$ 6.336 billion, including $2.895 billion total for R&D and 9 initial pods, followed by $3.443 billion for 114 production NGJ mid-band pods. System development beyond the Technology Demonstration phase is expected to begin in Q2 2016.
Note that if the Navy gets 22 more EA-18Gs in Fy 2015, it will also have to order another 22 mid-band pods, and the same will be true for Increment 2 low-band and Increment 3 high-band pods as well.
March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. The GAO protest has moved all of the NGJ’s milestones back, and the FY 2014 – 2015 period has $181.9 million cut from the R&D budget. See the article budget and timeline charts for revised details.
Jan 24/14: Raytheon, Again. The US Navy reaffirms Raytheon’s contract award after carrying out a new cost and technical analysis of all 3 original bids. NGJ technology development efforts resume, after a 6+ month delay to the entire program. Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute writes that the NGJ mid-band pod and AMDR radar wins are a watershed for Raytheon:
“Coming as it does on the heels of Raytheon’s victory in another pivotal Navy competition to develop a next-generation air and missile defense radar, the jammer re-award seems to confirm that the company has ascended to the top tier of system integrators. Although Raytheon has a long history of innovation in military electronics and guided missiles, it traditionally has been regarded as a subcontractor rather than a top-level system integrator. Under Chairman & CEO William Swanson, though, Raytheon has moved up the technological food chain and is now beating companies once thought to be more capable in competitions to integrate complex systems.”
Sources: Defense Systems, “Raytheon back to work on Next Generation Jammer” | Forbes, “Raytheon Prevails Again In Jammer Contest” | Reuters, “UPDATE 2-Raytheon to keep next-generation jammer contract -U.S. Navy”.
Dec 23/13: Flight Global reports that the US Navy is “taking corrective action by reevaluating proposals and performing and documenting a new cost/technical tradeoff analysis” of the various proposals. They could still find that Raytheon offered the best value, and uphold the contract. Otherwise, the Navy could either choose to terminate Raytheon’s contract and switch the award, or change the RFP in whatever way they deem necessary and ask for re-submission of bids. All of this is pretty much standard procedure. Sources: Flight Global, “US Navy reexamines electronic jamming contract following BAE protest”.
Nov 13/13: GAO decision: the GAO sustained portions of BAE’s protest (see July 18/13 entry), on the basis that:
“the Navy failed to reasonably evaluate technical risk in accordance with the terms of the solicitation, failed to adequately document its evaluation, and improperly credited the awardee with outdated experience. The protester raised various other protest allegations which were denied. GAO’s decision recommends that the Navy reevaluate proposals and properly document the evaluation record. At the conclusion of the reevaluation, GAO recommends that the Navy make a new source selection decision, and document its cost/technical tradeoff analysis with the rationale for the decision.
The GAO legal decision takes no position on the relative merits of these proposals, as assessments of merit are reserved for the agency. Rather, the decision is based on a review of the evaluation materials, the proposals, and the arguments raised by all of the parties during the course of the protest.”
This GAO decision was delayed by 2 weeks because of the government shutdown in October. A redacted version of the decision will be made available publicly after the interested parties have chimed in.
Raytheon wins Technology Development phase.
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Aug 20/13: GAO Report misses the forest for the trees. At the US Senate’s request, the Congressional Government Accountability Office auditors review the NGJ program for potential duplication with other Airborne Electronic Attack programs. The GAO’s core problem is simple: they’ve done their standard report, answering the question asked. Even as technology developments ensure that their framework doesn’t make much sense. It’s an auditor’s answer to a Chief Technology Officer’s problem.
GAO itself admits that there’s no duplication in the jammer’s primary air defense suppression (SEAD) role. Their concern involves “secondary” roles, like irregular warfare. The Navy’s counter-point is that these capabilities come at very low cost because their requirements aren’t driving the NGJ’s design.
Electronic systems have become very flexible, and those capabilities are now extending to jammers. NGJ’s possible secondary roles could involve an extremely wide range of collection or jamming tasks. In many cases, the cost of adding them is limited to software development, and in some cases no work is needed. EA-6B Prowlers were used to jam cell phone frequencies in Iraq, for instance, blocking remotely-detonated land mines while flying overwatch for Army convoys. The problem gets bigger when one considers that the mainstreaming of AESA radars is introducing very flexible base hardware for other systems. So the duplication will be coming from both directions, and is inherent to the systems themselves.
There is one small section on the importance of an open systems approach, but even that addresses physical transfer to other platforms, rather than developing new capabilities that are portable across platforms, having common libraries of threat systems and waveforms, etc. Nor is it involved in GAO’s 2 main recommendations, both of which involve more justifications and paperwork re: duplication.
There was probably a time when GAO could have written a report about computer hardware purchases, asking for studies to ensure that they avoided duplication of secondary tasks. With the benefit of 2013 hindsight, we can all see that as lunacy. First, it would have strangled the Personal Computing revolution, missing the operational issue of having flexible assets on hand to perform a growing number of needed tasks, and the managerial issue of using less expensive assets to free up more expensive ones. On the procurement side, it would have utterly missed the real procurement issues of compatibility and standards in networking and in software capability development, as well as the secondary issue of overall system security. Similar trends are at work in the Airborne Electronic Attack space, raising similar issues – but the GAO stuck to its explicit task, and missed them. GAO Report #GAO-13-642.
July 25/13: Stop-work. Raytheon CEO William Swanson, discloses that the US Navy has issued a stop-work order regarding the NGJ. He says that Raytheon is “comfortable” with their ability to retain the contract. Navy spokeswoman Captain Cate Mueller confirmed to Reuters that the Navy issued the order on July 18/13.
That’s standard procedure when a protest is filed, though there have been examples like the Afghan Light Air Support contract, where the relevant service cites a priority need and elects to keep the contract running during the protest period. The LAS case used a provision in the Competition in Contracting Act for that purpose, and it was upheld by a court. Reuters.
July 18/13: Protest. BAE Systems launches a bid protest against the US Navy’s NGJ award to Raytheon. The GAO must hand down a ruling by Oct 28/13.
Until then, the standard approach is to freeze contract spending until the protest is decided. Boeing’s EA-18G work, which needs to happen no matter who wins, has better odds of continuing. GAO Protest Docket | Lexington Institute | Reuters | DID: “How the US GAO’s Bid Protest Process Works and Why Defense Contractors Abuse It.”
July 17/13: EA-18G mods. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $17 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for phase I of the NGJ pod’s EA-18G hardware integration. $10 million is committed immediately. As noted earlier (q.v. July 10/12) the EA-18G will need a number of minor changes in order to work with the new pods.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in October 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001, #2049).
July 8/13: TD Phase. Raytheon in El Segundo, CA wins the down-select, and walks away with a $279.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the Next Generation Jammer’s Technology Development phase, which will run to March 2015. The 22-month TD phase is the next step in bringing mature components together into testable subsystems that meet requirements, as well as developing a preliminary design for the new jamming pods. $50 million in Navy FY Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy contract funds is committed immediately.
Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (55.99%); Ft. Wayne, IN (13.36%); Dallas, TX (11.12%); Torrance, CA (9.94%); Clearfield, UT (2.72%), McKinney, TX (2.36%); Tucson, AZ (1.56%); Marion, VA (2.37%); Goleta, CA (0.02%); Forest, MS (0.18%); and Andover, MA (0.38%). This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, and 3 offers were received by US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-13-C-0128). It was only 3 because Northrop Grumman and ITT Exelis teamed up at the end (q.v. Nov 1/12 entry).
Raytheon makes the EA-18G’s AN/APG-79 AESA radar, which could be recruited to become part of the jamming array, and also makes the planes’ AN/ALR-67(V)3 radar warning receivers that are integrated with its radar-killing AGM-88 HARM missiles. Even some of the jamming hardware on the ALQ-99 is Raytheon’s. Off-board, the firm’s jet-powered ADM-160 MALD-J jammer decoys will be carried on Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, and could be carried on EA-18Gs if the inboard pylons weren’t needed for fuel. The TD contract will provide Raytheon will opportunities to integrate and leverage all of these components, and more.
If all goes well, flight tests on the EA-18G will take place in the follow-on Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, which is expected to last 4 1/2 years. Low-Rate Initial Production would start in 2018 under current plans, and the Navy intends to begin fielding the new pods in 2020. US NAVAIR | Raytheon | Defense Tech | Nextgov.
Raytheon wins Technology Development phase contract
June 3/13: ITT. ITT Exelis announces the end of the 33-month NGJ Technology Maturation phase, adding that “technologies that were effectively demonstrated in a laboratory environment include advanced receiver controlled jamming, digital radio frequency memory and mid-band aperture. The Exelis team also proved the effectiveness of its power generation and control systems.”
Throughout the technology maturation phase, work was performed at Exelis facilities in Clifton, NJ, and Amityville and Bohemia, NY. See also Jan 25/12 and Dec 19/11 entries. ITT.
Added TM contracts for all 4 vendors; Program shifted later, removes F-35 from near-term plans; New pods will be sub-sonic; Testing & demonstrations; ITT breaks up with Boeing, adds Northrop Grumman.
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Nov 1/12: New Team. NGJ competitors Northrop Grumman Corporation and ITT Exelis announce that they are joining forces for the Next Generation Jammer Technology Development phase bid. ITT had been teamed with Boeing, but that team broke apart by mutual agreement at the end of the Technology Maturation phase (q.v. April 16/12 entry). NGC.
July 27/12: NGC. Northrop Grumman announces successful completion of the NGJ Technology Maturation phase. Their work included mission and operational analysis and trades, preliminary design of the pod and Ram Air Turbine, many hours of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, multiple design refinements, construction of the prototype pod, and wind tunnel verification.
Their efforts then went a step farther, and included in-flight demonstrations of their prototype pod and prime power generation (PPG) system, using a Calspan Gulfstream III business jet from Niagara Falls International Airport, NY. The flights validated the pod’s aerodynamic performance, as well as the ram air turbine’s ability generate the vast amounts of power needed to meet the Navy’s requirements. The firm says that all test objectives were successfully met, and that the demonstrated power generation performance exceeded initial estimates.
The firm adds that they received a $24.7 million contract to further advance the critical technology development elements of its Next Generation Jammer solution and mature the concept demonstrator design. If one assumes that this is a refined total for the April 30/12 contract, rather than an additional award, the firm’s announced NGJ contract total would rise to $72.7 million. NGC.
July 10/12: TD RFP. US NAVAIR releases the solicitation for NGJ’s Technology Development Phase, which aims to commit up to $288 million from FY 2013 through 2015. The TD phase will include: (1) Technology Readiness Assessments to confirm Technology Readiness Level 6 (prototype demonstration in an operational environment) status for critical Increment 1 technologies; (2) System Designs to a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to establish the functional and allocated baselines for Increment 1; and (3) Refining technical trade space including those to improve affordability, system efficiency, and host platform compatibility.
The EA-18Gs used for testing may need some modifications, in order to make proper use of the new gear. NAVAIR acknowledges possibilities that include improved fiber networks and switches on board; plus modifications to NGC’s ALQ-218 onboard tactical jamming receiver, mission computer and stores management system, digital memory devices, mission planning software, and specialized jamming equipment including the EIBU, EAU, and Jammer Technique Library.
The US military eventually intends to buy Engineering Development Model (EDM) shipsets at an average of $23.6 million each from 2015 – 2019, and 9 Low Rate Initial Production Lot 1 shipsets at an average of $24.0 million each that will be ordered in 2018.
Tech Development RFP
May 11/12: No F-35. Flight Global talks to Captain John Green, the USN program manager for airborne electronic attack. NAVAIR moved away from their original desire for a single pod, and acknowledged that the initial EA-18G deployment will be a 2-pod solution, focused on the mid-band range where most of the threats are. The USN has a relatively new low-band jammer, whose planned upgrades can keep it relevant. Ultimately, NGJ will add high-band jamming capability, and probably low-band as well.
The technology base will involve an Active Electronically Scanned Array, as expected, and will also use new Gallium Nitride (GaN) semiconductor chips rather than the standard Gallium Arsenide (GaAs). Green touts “at least” a 10x performance jump for these purposes, based on “very, very good numbers” seen in tests to date.
Planned F-35 integration costs also showed very high numbers, and those costs have led the Navy to focus on the EA-18G. Green says that focus could remain until the end of the 2020s.
The other important piece of information is that the Navy has dropped supersonic carriage requirements. The performance (read: fuel and range) penalty was too great, which means the Next-Generation Jammer will probably be limited to the same Mach 0.95 as the previous ALQ-99 pods. Heavy range penalties mean that strike aircraft don’t spend a lot of time at supersonic speeds, and the Navy doesn’t have any planes that can supercruise, but the limit will still have tactical implications for strike packages with EA-18G escorts. Flight Global.
F-35 postponed, No supersonic carriage for pods
April 30/12: TM extensions. The other 3 NGJ contractors receive 1-year extensions to their Next-Generation Jammer Technology Maturation contracts from US NAVAIR, following on the heels of Raytheon’s March 21/12 extension. Work will continue until April 2013, and contracts include:
$20.6 million to BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Inc. in Nashua, NH. Work will be performed in Nashua, NH (39%); Melbourne, FL (25%); Cincinnati, OH (14%); Lansdale, PA (14%); and Baltimore, MD (8%). BAE’s announced NGJ contract total is now $68.2 million (N00019-10-C-0070).
$20.2 million to ITT Corp. in Clifton, NJ. Work will be performed in Clifton, NJ (59%); Amityville, NY (21.8%); Bohemia, NY (11%); Irvine, CA (4.9%); and Langley, VA (3.3%). ITT’s announced NGJ contract total is now $68.4 million (N00019-10-C-0071). See also ITT release.
$20.2 million to Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems – Eastern Region in Bethpage, NY. Work will be performed in Linthicum, MD (55%) and Bethpage, NY (45%). NGC’s announced NGJ contract total is now $68.2 million (N00019-10-C-0072).
April 16/12: Breakup. ITT Exelis announces that their alliance with Boeing will end when the Technology Maturation phase does:
“This amendment was made based on recent acquisition changes and streamlining of the NGJ program. The Exelis-Boeing NGJ team has concluded that to best serve the U.S. Navy’s overall electronic attack capability objectives, Exelis will continue to focus on developing technologies critical to the NGJ program. Boeing will concentrate its efforts on integration of the jammer on the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.”
ITT Exelis ends up joining forces with fellow competitor Northrop Grumman for the TD Phase bid, while Boeing removes itself from contention.
March 21/12: TM extension. Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems in Goleta, CA receives a $21.3 million modification to their NGJ Technology Maturation contract (q.v. July 13/10 entry). It extends work for 1 year, to April 2013.
Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (30%); Goleta, CA (25%); Dallas, TX (25%); Fort Wayne, IN (15%); and Andover, MA (5%). Raytheon’s announced NGJ contract total is now $68.8 million (N00019-10-C-0073).
Feb 13/12: Program shift. The USA’s FY 2013 budget documents include materials re: NGJ, which transitioned to a Block approach for development, and changed their Acquisition Strategy. OPNAV rephased program funding in POM 13, resulting in the following schedule changes:
* Milestone A moved from 2nd QTR 2012 to 3rd QTR 2013
* Technology Development (Block 1) contract award moved from 3rd QTR 2012 to 3rd QTR 2013
* Test and Evaluation Master Plan moved from 1st QTR 2014 to 3rd QTR 2014
* Technology Development (Block 2) was added in 2nd QTR 2015
* Milestone B (Block 1) moved from 1st QTR 2015 to 3rd QTR 2015
* EMD (Block 1) Award moved from 1st QTR 2015 to 3rd QTR 2015
* Integrated Testing start moved from 1st QTR 2016 to 3rd QTR 2016
* Milestone B (Block 2) added in 1st QTR 2017
* EMD (Block 2) added in 2nd QTR 2017
* First EDM Delivery moved from 4th QTR 2016 to 4th QTR 2017
* Technology Development (Block 3) was added in 4th QTR 2017
* Milestone C moved from 4th QTR 2017 to 2nd QTR 2018.
It’s still very early days, and some shifts are to be expected at this point.
Jan 25/12: ITT. The ITT Exelis/ Boeing team touts successful testing of critical NGJ array transmitter components. Tests included Digital Beam-Forming for broadband electronically steerable antenna arrays, performance of the Gallium-Nitride based Mid-Band and High-Band Power Amplifiers, and the required packaging and cooling. Just like the computer on your desk, more power = more cooling, or improved design that keeps the electronics cool in other ways. ITT Exelis.
Dec 19/11: ITT. ITT Exelis and Boeing tout successful wind tunnel testing of a full-scale pod model at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. In addition to generating figures for drag, the tests also ensure that airflow projections for the proposed ram air power turbine check out. ITT Exelis.
Dec 13/11: Raytheon. Raytheon touts successful tests of a critical power generation subsystem within their jammer design, during a series of sea and altitude level wind tunnel tests at Arnold AFB in Tullahoma, TN. The tests involved full power generation, transient load switching and effective thermal control of the unit in operationally relevant environmental conditions. Raytheon.
FY 2009 – 2011
Initial concept development & Technology Maturation contracts; BAE allies with Cobham, ITT with Boeing.
July 13/10: TM Phase 2. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD issues additional Technology Maturation contracts to all 4 firms. All use a cost-plus-fixed-fee structure, which is common for R&D. The added funds will take the initial concepts to the next stage as concept demonstrators, and also refine some of the critical technologies that the contractors are proposing to use. High-power jamming demands lots of electrical power, so power generation will be an important technical challenge. The contracts will run until April 2012:
BAE Systems Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Inc. in Nashua, NH receives $41.7 million. Work will be performed in Nashua, NH (32%); Cincinnati, OH (27%); Lansdale, PA (25%); and Melbourne, FL (16%). BAE’s release says that their bid also involves Cobham (q.v. Feb 22/10), GE Aviation (whose technology currently generates all of the F/A-18E/F’s electrical power), and the radio mavens at Harris Corporation (N00019-10-C-0070).
ITT Integrated Electronic Warfare Systems in Clifton, NJ receives $42.5 million. Work will be performed in Clifton, NJ (44%); St. Louis, MO (38%); and North Amityville, NY (18%). They’re partnered with EA-18G manufacturer Boeing (N00019-10-C-0071).
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems – Eastern Region in Bethpage, NY receives $42 million. Work will be performed in Linthicum, MD (60%); Bethpage, NY (34%); Rockledge, FL (5%); and Mojave, CA (1%). NGC’s release adds that the Technology Development phase is expected to start in 2011, but the actual date turns out to be mid-2013 (N00019-10-C-0072).
Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems in Goleta, CA receives $42 million. Work will be performed in Goleta, CA (25%); El Segundo, CA (25%); Dallas, TX (25%); Fort Wayne, IN (10%); Indianapolis, IN (7%); Torrance, CA (5%); Fairfax, VA (2%); and Anacortes, WA (1%). See also Raytheon release (N00019-10-C-0073).
Technology Maturation phase contracts
Feb 22/10: BAE. BAE Systems and Cobham form a strategic alliance on their proposal for the U.S. Navy’s NGJ. Cobham has worked with the existing ALQ-99 pods, an area where BAE didn’t have any traction. Cobham also brings about 20 years of experience in providing high-power broadband transmitter sub-systems and electronic warfare microwave electronics to the US Navy. BAE Systems.
Nov 6/09: NGC. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that they’ve submitted their proposal for the Technology Maturation phase in the U.S. Navy’s competition to develop and field the NGJ.
Jan 16/09: TM contracts. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD issues 4 firm-fixed-price Technology Maturation contracts for Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) research, to developing innovative system-level solution concepts (as opposed to component level technologies). The 4 winners were:
BAE Systems in Nashua, NH gets $5.9 million. BAE is the mission systems integrator for the EC-130H Compass Call jamming aircraft, provides the electronic warfare suites for the F-22 and F-35, cooperates with ITT on the IDECM aircraft protection system, and also makes individual countermeasures units (N00019-09-C-0013).
ITT Corp. in Clifton, NJ gets $5.7 million. ITT makes the full AIDEWS and IDECM electronic protection suites for aircraft, ground-based jammers, and the EA-18G’s INCANS system. INCANS lets pilots use their jammers without blanking their own ability to communicate, something that’s a problem on the EA-6B (N00019-09-C-0082).
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY gets $6 million. Northrop Grumman has been involved in Electronic Attack for a while – the EA-6A Prowler was a Grumman aircraft modified by the company. NGC is responsible for the latest ICAP III variants of the ALQ-99 jamming pod on EA-6Bs and EA-18Gs, and has deep AESA radar experience (N00019-09-C-0084). NGC release.
Raytheon Co. in Goleta, CA gets $5.5 million. Raytheon already makes full aircraft self-protection systems like ACES, as well as individual self-protection electronics, and has deep AESA radar experience (N00019-09-C-0085).
Work is expected to be complete in July 2009. These contracts were solicited under an electronic Broad Agency Announcement, and 4 offers were received. See also Flight Global.
NGJ Concept development contracts
* US NAVAIR – NGJ Technology Development Phase solicitation.
* FBO.gov (Sept 12/08, #N00019-08-R-0101) – Next Generation Jammer (NGJ). Original Technology Maturation solicitation.
* Raytheon – Next Generation Jammer. Winner over BAE, ITT/NGC.
* DID FOCUS – EA-18G Program: The USA’s Electronic Growler
* DID – Raytheon’s APG-79 AESA Radars. They equip the EA-18G, and their characteristics would allow them to be used as receivers and jammers themselves.
* Raytheon (Feb 13/13) – Inside the Diamond Mine: Synthetic Gems Get the Military’s Attention. Diamond conducts heat better than almost any material, which is incredibly useful for heat-producing systems like NGJ. They’re working on bonding synthetic diamond to GaN chips, and making progress.
* ITT Exelis – Next Generation Jammer. Teamed with Boeing, then with NGC. 2013 snapshot.
* Northrop Grumman – Next Generation Jammer. Eventually teamed with ITT. Both manufacture ECM systems for other fighters. 2013 snapshot.
* US GAO (Aug 20/13, #GAO-13-642) – Next Generation Jammer: DOD Should Continue to Assess Potential Duplication and Overlap As Program Moves Forward.
* US GAO (Mar 29/12, #GAO-12-175) – Airborne Electronic Attack: Achieving Mission Objectives Depends on Overcoming Acquisition Challenges.
News & Views
* YouTube (June 27/13) – Future Airborne Electronic Warfare [EW] Systems [Aero India 2013]. Presentation by Elbit Senior Director, Mr. Uri Shatit.
* Breaking Defense (Dec 6/12) – Navy Bets On ‘Baby Steps’ To Improve Electronic Warfare; F-35 Jamming Not Enough. Answers the question: why NGJ?
* Aviation Week, via Military.com (Oct 11/10) – US Navy Mulls NGJ Architecture Choice. 3 pods (low-band centerline +2), or 4? And what about the role of UAVs?
* Avionics Today (Sept 1/10) – Jammer Next.
* Aviation Week, via WayBack (April 13/09) – Growler EW Upgrades On The Way.
* Worldwide War Pigs (May 6/08) – Not much Grrrrrr! for the Growler. Eric Palmer points out a number of shortcomings in the planned EA-18G, based on March 2002 NAVAIR slides. Mostly it points out that the gear adds a ton of drag, and that the pods will need to begin their upgrade cycle as soon as they’re fielded. Both true.
* Air Power Australia (1989) – The Anatomy of the TacJammer. They’re quite partial to the USAF’s EF-111 design, which carried its gear internally. That would also be the model if NGJ is installed on stealth fighters.