US Navy starts final tests of low-band jammers for EA-18G Growler
The US Navy (USN) has started final tests of two systems competing to win the service’s Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGL-LB) competition, which aims to develop a jammer for Boeing EA-18G Growlers.
Tests of systems developed by Northrop Grumman and L3Harris are part of that programme’s Demonstration of Existing Technologies phase. They are planned to run through summer at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, says Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) on 18 May.
The final period signals an approaching end of the 20-month competition.
Two Demonstration of Existing Technologies contracts were awarded in October 2018, one to Northrop Grumman and one to L3Harris. Each company’s low-band jammer has since completed “significant test events,” says NGJ-LB deputy programme manager Leon Smith.
The NGJ-LB is housed inside a pod and carried under an aircraft’s centreline or a wing. It is intended to disrupt, deny, degrade, and deceive enemy air defences, such as radar-guided surface-to-air missiles, as well as ground-based communication systems that operate on lower radio frequencies, says the USN. It is a partial replacement to the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System currently used on the EA-18G electronic attack aircraft.
NAVAIR also plans two field two other jammers: a mid-band and a high-band system. The technologies are being developed in order of importance, with the mid-band system scheduled to reach to initial operating capability first, in fiscal year 2022. The low-band system will come second, and the high-band technology will come last. The development competition for the high-band system has not started.
Raytheon won the competition to develop the AN/ALQ-249 Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band. The system was to enter flight testing this spring.