The U.S. Navy released a draft request for proposals (RFP) last month for its future airborne electronic warfare system, the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ), signaling a shift in the $2 billion program to the technology development phase. Contained in under-wing pods on the Navy’s EA-18G Growler, the NGJ will suppress advanced, integrated air defenses, communications systems, datalinks and other threats, replacing the long-serving AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming system on the Boeing EA-18G and retiring Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers.
The Navy has accelerated the development program and plans to introduce the new jammer in 2020, with ensuing block upgrades to cover additional radio frequency bands. Plans to integrate the jammer on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have been shelved due to delays in that program.
Four contractor teams–ITT Exelis and partner Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and BAE Systems–each received contracts in July 2010 for the NGJ technology maturation phase that is concluding. The Navy plans to award contracts to a single contractor for the technology development (TD) phase next year, followed by engineering and manufacturing development of the jammer in 2015. The service said it expects to release a formal RFP for the TD phase in mid-June.
The competing teams are known to have incorporated broadband, electronically scanned antenna arrays in their proposed solutions. The NGJ program will also advance the technology readiness of high-power RF amplifiers, beam formers and advanced exciters, which optimize jamming signals. The chosen contractor for the TD phase will be required to mature and demonstrate critical technologies, complete the system architecture and delineate subsystem requirements. The block approach calls for introducing mid-band frequency jamming initial operational capability in 2020, low-band in 2022 and high-band in 2024.
On April 16, ITT Exelis and Boeing said they were ending their joint development efforts “based on recent acquisition changes and streamlining” of the NGJ program, which originally planned to choose two contractors for the TD phase. “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.”