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The F-35 is being designed to go into the threat ring of the world’s best anti-aircraft defenses carrying the Next Generation Jammer which is to be fielded in 2018.There have been two directions of research in the exploratory stages of NGJ. One is the world of elegant, low-power techniques using tailored waveforms to unlock enemy electronics. The second is the use of extremely well-directed, high-power radiation that can incapacitate enemy electronics.“We do need to go to smarter techniques like coherent jamming where you spend a substantial amount of time listening and then respond in-band in a more deceptive construct than just simply putting out jamming noise,” says Capt. John Green, program manager for Airborne Electronic Attack and EA-6B Prowler.“You get more bang for the buck out of smarter techniques, and they don’t necessarily require as much power. The holy grail is using [those] low-power techniques in a high-power way with lots of effective radiated power [ERP]. That gives you more range. It allows you to stand off at great distances, knock out the lights and achieve effects [such as information operations, false target generation and electronic spoofing] that you couldn’t otherwise.”There is interest in putting NGJ on other platforms such as long-endurance UAVs that are optimized for electronic surveillance.“We’re looking at it, but it’s not a program of record,” Greeen says. “However, one of the reasons that the Chief of Naval Operations aligned UAVs and ECM is because he sees it as all part of information dominance. The [analysis of alternatives] group is looking at very smart processes for making solutions for EA-18G and F-35 as similar as possible.”There are a number of capabilities NGJ will not have, at least in the beginning, or that will require intense focus later in the program.1. There is no plan yet to generate electronically-destructive high-power microwaves pulses. Interest so far has focused elsewhere.2. Network intrusion is not currently a mission for NGJ. That mission belongs to other platforms.3. There is no focus or investment so far in altering the signature or radar reflectivity of wing-mounted pods that will carry NGJ even though F-35 is a stealthy aircraft.4. The Program Office and AOA group has yet to come up with a pod design that combines an efficient aerodynamic shape but still yields a good antenna array presentation. “It may not have a pointed nose because one of the areas we’re looking at is ram-air-ducted turbines [instead of exterior propellers] to power it,” Green says. “That will help give us the array visibility we need probably by moving the [air intake scoops away from the centerline]. There are some big integration challenges with getting it all to fit with the presentation and aspect that you need.”Four teams have been awarded contracts to pursue technology maturation of the NGJ design: BAE Systems/Cobham, ITT/Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. Results of the analysis of alternatives (AOA) have not be revealed, but five Preliminary Critical Technology Enablers have been identified: power generation and distribution, exciters, beam-formers, high-power amplifiers and apertures.The last – apertures – is expected to be derived from those that make up active electronically scanned arrays used for advanced radars carried by EA-18G Growler, F-22 Raptor and F-35 JSF among other aircraft.“It is a virtual certainty that we’ll end up using active array aperture technology,” Green says. The advantage of electronically scanned arrays over manually scanned technology is greater power output and 2-3 times longer range.In addition, “There is a lot of benefit even beyond range and power,” he says.Maintainability cost is about 10% that of a conventional aircraft and reliability of electronically scanned arrays is calculated to be longer that the life of the airframe which is expected to drive down F-35 life cycle cost.
ar99, NGJ, Navy, Growler, EA-18G, EA
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