Aerospace manufacturer BAE Systems will provide electronic warfare countermeasure pods for the US Navy’s (USN’s) fleet of Boeing P-8 maritime patrol jets.

The company secured a $95 million contract from the navy on 5 June to fund initial engineering and manufacturing development of the podded system, which is intended to increase the P-8’s survivability and expand the non-stealth aircraft’s operating range in contested environments.

The move to begin a formal acquisition process follows a 2021 rapid response contract with the USN to develop a prototype system and demonstrate the concept. BAE says it has already completed tests evaluating the pod’s airworthiness and effectiveness.

“We quickly prototyped a very capable system using proven technology to defend against air-to-air and surface-to-air guided threats,” says Don Davidson, director of advanced compact electronic warfare solutions at BAE.

P-8A Survivability Pod Press Release Image

Source: BAE Systems

In addition to the USA, the 737-800-derived P-8 is in service with India, Australia, the UK, New Zealand, South Korea and Norway

The new BAE system will provide both early threat detection and countermeasures the company says can effectively protect aircraft against guided munitions. A rendering provided by BAE depicts an underwing-mounted pod with a cable-style antenna trailing the aircraft.

The USN uses its P-8s for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, and for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions – meaning crews may not fly in airspace controlled by friendly forces.

Electronic warfare countermeasures offer protection beyond flares and chaff. The latest systems employ energy from the full electromagnetic spectrum to detect and disrupt enemy radars and munitions.

BAE notes the podded approach will allow its system be rapidly adapted for aircraft types other than P-8s.

In addition to the USA, the P-8 is in service with India, Australia, the UK, New Zealand, South Korea and Norway. Canada and Germany have also committed to acquiring the Boeing twinjet, which is derived from a 737-800 commercial airliner.