BAE Systems said it started work transitioning its Compass Call electronic warfare system from the Lockheed EC-130H to a modified Gulfstream G550, an EC-37B aircraft.
Gulfstream Aerospace is in the process of removing unneeded commercial components from a G550 aircraft in Savannah, Georgia. BAE anticipates the first two aircraft being fielded in 2023.
The transition across aircraft is dubbed Cross Deck by BAE.
About 70% of the system used on the EC-130H aircraft will be reused on the EC-37B aircraft, said Rob Doherty, Cross Deck programme director.
“The remaining 30% is split between 10% (of components) which are truly new and 20% which are being repackaged to fit within different form factors within the airplane,” he said.
Doherty added that though the Gulfstream G550 appears smaller than the C-130 Hercules, the difference is minor and it was not difficult to reconfigure the Compass Call system into the business jet.
“The G550 is a surprisingly big aircraft,” he said. “If you look at it lengthwise, it’s within inches of the C-130. It’s not as big of a reduction as you’d think.”
BAE Systems has been keen to emphasize that the EC-37B aircraft will weigh 50% less and cost 50% less to operate. The aircraft also flies higher, faster and further than its Cold War predecessor.
BAE Systems is working with L3 Technologies to transition the Compass Call system. The firm serves as the platform’s systems engineering, integration and testing lead, as well as the mission system prime contractor.
The company completed the initial design review of the Compass Call weapon system for the EC-37B in 2017 and the final design review is planned for this fall. A total of 10 new aircraft are planned to be delivered.