The US Navy has conducted the first flight test of its futuristic new electronic jammer technology that can disable air-defence systems, writes Stephen Kuper.
Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) was tested on an EA-18G Growler on 7 August in Maryland and met all its objectives.
Future mission systems flight testing will demonstrate weapons system control, power generation, and electromagnetic compatibility between jammer and aircraft, as well as the performance of NGJ-MB’s high-capacity digital waveform generation and active electronically scanned arrays in flight against a variety of targets.
Data from these flight tests on the Growler will inform Milestone C – the Navy’s decision to start NGJ-MB production.
Annabel Flores, vice president of electronic warfare systems for RI&S, said, “After hundreds of hours of successful ground and chamber testing, NGJ-MB’s first Growler flight test marked a significant achievement for the program toward Milestone C and IOC.”
The flight follows more than 600 hours of ground testing of Engineering Development Model, or EDM, pods. At the Naval Air Stations Patuxent River and at Point Mugu, California, EDM pods underwent anechoic chamber testing – a special facility designed to absorb electromagnetic waves – to measure the jammer’s radio frequency power and beam-steering capabilities.
“It’s a testament to the technology and the collaborative efforts of the RI&S team with the Navy’s engineering, integration and test teams,” Flores added.
In addition to mission systems testing, the program is expected to begin aeromechanical flight testing shortly to assess aircraft flying qualities and performance, following previously completed ground vibration, static load and wind tunnel testing.
These tests will also evaluate the effects of the air flow environment on the pod, as well as noise and vibration behaviour.
To date, RI&S has delivered 10 EDM pods: six mission systems pods and four aeromechanical pods. A total of 28 pods will be delivered under the EDM contract.