Northrop Grumman has revealed details of its proposal for the joint US Navy/Air Force integrated defensive electronic-countermeasures (IDECM) requirement.

The company is one of four bidders for the contract to develop a jamming system for the USN's McDonnell Douglas F-18E/F and various USAF aircraft, including the McDonnell Douglas (MDC) F-15 and, possibly, the Rockwell B-1B. The other bidders are Raytheon, Westinghouse/Tracor, and ITT with Lockheed Martin company Sanders.

Bids have been submitted for the IDECM radio-frequency (RF) subsystem. The basic system is an internally mounted "techniques generator" connected via fibre-optic cable to an off-board jammer. The fibre-optic towed device (FOTD) will be more sophisticated than the USN's Raytheon ALE-50 towed decoy, with a longer tow line and higher-power transmitter, but will be compatible with the ALE-50 launcher box.

The techniques generator will occupy space allocated for the cancelled ITT/Westinghouse ALQ-165 airborne self-protection jammer (ASPJ) which the IDECM will replace. The techniques generator will receive and analyse hostile emissions and generate jamming waveforms for broadcast by the FOTD, which will be expendable - each aircraft carrying more than one.

Award of an engineering- and manufacturing-development contract could come as early as October. The F-18E/F is the principal application, followed by integration of the FOTD with the Northrop Grumman ALQ-135 jamming system in the F-15 and, possibly, with the B-1's ECM suite. The USAF and USN is also considering using the IDECM in the Northrop Grumman F-14, MDC AV-8B and Lockheed Martin F-16 and C-130.

Northrop Grumman's IDECM programme manager, Richard Friichtenicht, says that the company's proposal is heavily based on the ALQ-135. Almost 70% of the hardware is non-developmental and more than 85% of the software is reused, he says. The system proposed is 45% below the weight specified, exceeds the reliability target by 50% and is half the cost of the ASPJ, Friichtenicht adds.

The FOTD, which will cover a broad frequency range from low- to high-band, is the greatest technical challenge, he says.

Source: Flight International