Navy Develops Next-Gen Airborne Jammer

130511-N-RG587-182The U.S. Navy is developing airborne next-generation jammer, or NGJ, technology designed to enable aircraft to operate in increasingly complex and contested electromagnetic or “jamming” environments, service officials said.

“The NGJ program is being designed to deny, degrade or deceive the enemy’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum.  It will deliver significantly improved jamming capabilities such as higher radiated power and improved jamming modulations,” the Navy said in a written statement. “Its design will reduce ‘friendly jamming fratricide’ by operating at a more precise frequency setting with reduced unintentional harmonics.”

The idea is to allow aircraft in the future to overcome what the Pentagon refers to as Anti-Access/Area-Denial threats, or A2/AD. This refers to circumstances wherein the U.S. military’s ability to operate is challenged by potential adversaries’ technologies. In fact, some of the technologies possibly used by potential enemies include electro-magnetic warfare, “jamming” or electronic attack.

The Next-Generation Jammer, to be flown initially on the EA-18G Growler aircraft, is the replacement for the aging ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System, or TJS, Navy officials explained.

“ALQ-99 is the only airborne TJS in the DoD inventory. ALQ-99 is facing obsolescence and thus cannot counter all current, much less future threats. The NGJ will address evolving threats and fill capability gaps that the aging ALQ-99 TJS cannot,” the officials added.

NGJ will be a full-spectrum jammer and it will be developed in increments, service officials explained. The Navy plans to reach Initial Operational Capability with the NGJ system by the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Typical EA-18G AEA payloads will include two increment-1 NGJ pods on the wings and a centerline pod – either an ALQ-99 or an increment-2 NGJ pod,” officials said.

The NGJ will also include antenna arrays able to radiate high power jamming energy, high power amplifiers comprised of transmit-only or transmit-receive modules, and power generation capability, the service officials said. The power generation capability involves a technology wherein air flowing over the pods can be converted into electrical power.

EA-18G-maker Boeing is preparing to do the integration of NGJ onto the aircraft.

“The ALQ-99s have been the ‘best of breed’ since Vietnam but they need to be retired. The NGJ will elevate [airborne electronic attacks] effects as much as precision weapons replaced ‘iron bombs’ in strike aviation during the 1980s and 1990s.  NGJ will be our precision weapon, and it needs to stay on track so we can keep up with the rapidly evolving threat and offer this important capability to the warfighter,” said Rick Morgan, Boeing’s EA-18G business development.

The NGJ system is intended to replace and improve the current airborne electronic attack capability with a new system that can address the many diverse and rapidly changing threats expected on the electronic battlefield, officials said. In the future, the NGJ will be deployed or integrated onto other manned and unmanned platforms, the officials added.

NGJ, is slated to enter a Technology Development phase by the third quarter of fiscal year 2013, according to officials. A range of vendors are competing for contracts to enter the TD phase, including BAE Systems, ITT, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

The NGJ is being engineered to be modular, meaning the hardware is being designed such that it can readily accommodate software changes and upgrades as new threat information is learned.

“Its modular and reprogrammable architecture will support software and hardware updates to rapidly counter the many diverse and rapidly improving threats and will ensure its viability against threats of the future.  NGJ will not be designed to counter specific threats, but to be able to counter technologies and capabilities of current and future weapons systems,” Navy officials explained.

NGJ will leverage the intellectual capital from not only government laboratories, but also from industry and academia to provide jamming capabilities of the future, service officials said.

“Using the latest software driven digital technology, including very fast Digital to Analog (D/A) converters, the system is designed to be rapidly reprogrammable to increase its timeliness and effectiveness against improving threat scenarios,” Navy officials added.

About the Author

Kris Osborn
Kris Osborn is the managing editor of Scout Warrior.
  • Kole

    Again, the SuperBug platform is continuing to expand its prowess. Most of us here called it! lol

    • orly?

      The swarm’s sting gets more potent

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Boeing= field day

    • BlackOwl18E

      I’ve been calling it for three years and still no one listens to me.

      • tmb2

        Did I remember it right that you’re at the academy?

        • BlackOwl18E

          Not anymore, I’m not. I’m going to Pensacola.

          • USS ENTERPRISE

            Blue Angels?

          • BlackOwl18E

            Victims of sequestration…

          • VTGunner

            Friend of mine just got there for flight school. Cute girl ;) lol

  • Jay

    “Thumbs Up”

  • tiger

    Can it stop invaders from space this Independence Day? Will Smith’s C models did not do so hot.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Thats what the F-35 is suppose to do….

      • Dr. Horrible

        Is that an “Enders Game” joke?

  • Nessuno

    What’s the over/under on how many months before China has the schematics?

    • Big-Dean

      if Lockhead gets their dirty hands on it, it won’t remain secret for long

      • hibeam

        I think it’s pronounced Blockhead, the L is a non-silent B.

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      *Turns to Snowden*

      • Ben

        Not funny.

        • USS ENTERPRISE

          Did he not give away classified documents?

          • brandy

            no, he did not.

    • green

      China is developing next-next-generation EW devices. It’s going to be a few more years before people start to realize that China has actually gained an technological edge over the US.

      • green

        … gained an UNannounced technological edge …

  • fevriul

    So to counter a jammer, you create amissle that has a home on jam mode. Did’t the phoenix have such a capability? Jammers produce a directional spoke. Its suicide.

    • sean

      And u think in the many, many decades we’ve been using airborne jammers no body has ever thought about this and how to counter it?

      • green

        but only against unsophisticated opponents.

      • fevriul

        what 3 decades is many ?? and how do you counter it? for a jammer to work it has to broadcast thats the whole point. Its like radar you broadcast means your position is given away, its how Anti radar missles work. duh!

  • jamesb

    So if I read this right…..

    F-18 Growlers with a second seat is gonna be the Navy’s ‘Wild Weseal’

    Not a single seat F-35?

    • USS ENTERPRISE

      Whose complaining?

    • William_C1

      I’m not certain if the EA-18G will be used to perform the SEAD mission but historically the EA-6B and the (now retired) EF-111A weren’t the aircraft actually flying low and hitting the SAM sites. They might be used in support of SEAD missions, but in the USAF the job of actually neutralizing the SAM sites fell to the F-4G Phantom II or later the modified F-16CJ and F-16DJ.

  • hibeam

    Navy Develops Next-Gen Airborne Jammer
    Available on CD in China.

    • Jerry

      Available in your neighborhood Cinemas next week….

  • Benjamin

    Will the EA-18 be able to go supersonic with the NGJ?

    Either way it is going to be a drastic improvement over the performance of the EA-6B

  • Bob

    I honestly believe that defense contractors leak their information just so they can sell what they have already developed to America. Crooked world today, no patriotism left, we are defeating ourselves from the inside out.

  • Guest

    “ALQ-99 is the only airborne TJS in the DoD inventory. ALQ-99 is facing obsolescence and thus cannot counter all current, much less future threats. The NGJ will address evolving threats and fill capability gaps that the aging ALQ-99 TJS cannot,” the officials added.

    This paragraph looks like somebody spilled a bowl of alphabet soup. I hate TLAs! (Three Letter Acronyms)

  • Dobber

    Now if only they could create a “cyber-jammer” to keep the Chicoms at bay…

  • Lance

    Can it work on EA-6Bs also??? This might again be the only way to fight in the air new radars are starting to be able to to detect stealth aircraft making steal tech obsolete.

    • blight_

      …we still have EA-6B’s?

      • Prowlers

        We do but they will be retired by the time this NGJ comes online.

  • STemplar

    Ugh, they said modular. It’s doomed to take twice as long, cost twice as much, and work half as well as promised.

    • Curt

      The ALQ-99 is modular, it just means that different pods cover different bandwidths and different tasks. In fact, at least initially, some of the ALQ-99 pods will be used with the NGJ pods. As an aside, there is nothing new about this story. Must be a slow defense news day.

    • blight_

      “Modular” is usually supposed to be mean future-proof. Of course, it tends to require a significant investment up-front in good coding practice.

  • w.schroeder

    better to install tactical sensors to locate threat,sthen locators to obliterate the multiple targets in sequence of priority with stealth munissions.

  • http://www.nakoropakala.pl DelerAreTruskix
  • NGF

    The first foreign Growler customer is Australia, which has ordered twelve EA-18G’s to go with the 24 F model Super Hornets already on strength. The RAAF is sensibly following the USN by acquiring Super Hornets to hedge against delays and problems with the JSF.

    It is interesting to note that the Super Hornet will be able to carry the ADM-160 miniature air-launched drone – MALD – including the Navy’s J (jamming version) version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADM-160_MALD

  • William_C1

    This was an overdue development. AESA type technology could allow for major improvements in ECM gear, although the power requirements will be a challenge. Hopefully the technology from NGJ can also be used for new internal ECM equipment and new external pods to replace “self-protection” jammers like the AN/ALQ-131 and AN/ALQ-184.

    The EA-18G will be an improvement over the EA-6B in most respects, but range and endurance are probably less. It’s a shame that the USAF retired their EF-111s.

    • spuds

      The Raven was a POS – that’s why the Air Farce retired it…

      • William_C1

        Their record was pretty good, served until 1998. It wasn’t limited to subsonic speeds either thanks to the underside ECM housing.

  • http://twitter.com/RosaleeAdams @RosaleeAdams

    Modern version of our VAQ135 aircraft, the A-3 Skywarrior
    Too cool to not use this shot for a desktop

  • Eric Boddy

    Don’t retire the EA6B’s or the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming system! I have worked on these planes and all of they’re electronic systems. I have seen they’re performance. The ALQ-99 system made the AirForce EF-111’s look like childrens toys. I have also seen the EA6B do a barrel roll off the Nimitz catapult! These things are like 60’s audio systems… Built tougher than needed! Even the Prowlers APS-130 radar had more power than needed! And with the HARM high speed antiradiation missle to provide it with attack capabilities, it is not replaceable!!!! SAVE THE EA6B’s!!!!!!!!!!!!