Italy’s air force appears set to join an elite group of services capable of fighting their way into hostile territory by using combat aircraft carrying active jamming technology.

Elettronica chief executive Enzo Benigni welcomed Italian defence minister Roberta Pinotti to the company’s stand on the opening day of the show, before announcing that a teaming agreement has been signed to work on an escort jammer pod.

Dubbed the ELT/568 and containing already-proven solid-state transmitters and receivers and active phased array antennas, the pod-based system will be employed for the “interception and effective jamming of a wide field of complex radar threats”, the Italian company says. Its agreement with the nation’s air force is the result of a need to enhance the service’s electronic warfare capabilities in the face of an increased ground-based threat.

“This is a strategic system for combat aircraft, able to cope with modern operational airborne requirements,” Benigni says.

The first expected application will be with Italy’s Panavia Tornado force, but chief marketing and strategy officer Eugenio Santagata says the system could also subsequently be integrated with its Eurofighter.

While the company declines to reveal the exact status of the project, it confirms that the new product has yet to be flown in podded form. However, Santagata notes that an operational system could be available “shortly”.

Design work is ongoing, but the full system is expected to be housed within a pod measuring between 4m (13.1ft) and 6m in length and carried on a combat aircraft’s centerline stores station. Elettronica is aiming to produce a common system for multiple platforms, also including legacy combat aircraft flown by other nations.

“Threats operating in lower bands are making this capability a must,” says Santagata.

The company is already in pursuit of export sales. “We have had a few requests,” Benigni says, while noting that the design uses entirely proprietary equipment. “We have invested a lot of money in our technologies,” he adds.

Once operational, the escort jammer pod will give Italy the capability to undertake missions which can currently be performed using a dedicated asset like Boeing’s EA-18G Growler, which is in service with the US Navy and also on order for Australia.

Source: Flight Daily News