Raytheon will supply 15 next generation jammer (NGJ) prototype pods over the next four years as the $7.4 billion US Navy programme transitions from the design into the engineering and manufacturing development phase.
Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded the California-based defence contractor a $1 billion contract on 13 April. The award covers additional development ahead of a scheduled design freeze next year, followed by the delivery of 15 engineering development model pods and another 14 aero-mechanical test pods.
The latter are intended to be installed aboard the Boeing EA-18G in the same wing stations now used by the nearly 45-year-old ALQ-99 jamming pods, which the NGJ replaces, and used to validate flying qualities and safe separation from the aircraft, according to a contract award notice by the Department of Defense.
The DOD also awarded Boeing a related contract on 8 April worth $19.9 million, charging the EA-18G designer to do “preliminary” work needed to incorporate the NGJ pods.
NAVAIR selected Raytheon to design and build 128 NGJ pods for the EA-18G fleet in 2014.
Navy officials had once hoped to consolidate the full spectrum of jamming frequencies into a single pod, but now plan to divide the role into three increments of the NGJ pod.
The first increment is expected to enter service in 2021 with the ability to counter radars and communications emitting in mid-band frequencies, a swath of the spectrum associated with fire control radars.
Follow-on increments will address the low- and high-band frequencies, which range in function from low-band mobile phones to high-frequency targeting radars.
In March, the US Government Accountability Office raised concerns about the pace of the navy’s development schedule. An assessment report noted the schedule calls for testing the first protoype pod after the design is frozen.