The U.S. Navy has recently began the final Demonstration of Existing Technologies (DET) test period for the AN/ALQ-249(V)2 Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) capability, in an effort Australia will be watching closely with an eye on equipping the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of Boeing EA-18G Growler Electronic Attack aircraft in the future.

The tests are being conducted at the Air Combat Environmental Test and Evaluation Facility and the Facility for Antenna and RCS Measurement (FARM) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland through the coming northern summer.

According to the U.S. Navy’s Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the 20-month DET contract has been a collaborative effort with industry partners to assess technical maturity.

Two NGJ-LB DET contracts were originally awarded in October 2018 to Northrop Grumman and L3Harris, and since then, both companies completed eight significant test events, said NGJ-LB Deputy Program Manager Leon Smith.

NGJ-LB is part of a larger NGJ weapon system program that will augment, and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) currently used for Airborne Electronic Attack on the EA-18G Growler aircraft. It is planned for the NGJ-LB to reach initial operating capability (IOC) in 2022.

The other components being developed for the NGJ program are the AN/ALQ-249(V)1 NGJ-MB (Mid-Band) and AN/ALQ-249(V)3 NGJ-HB (High-Band) pods, each assigned to cover different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The first round of Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3) testing for the NGJ-MB was completed earlier this year, with IOC notionally scheduled for later this year while it is hoped the NGJ-HB will attain IOC in 2024.

“This is an exciting time for the team,” said Airborne Electronic Attack Systems (PMA-234) Program Manager Capt. Michael Orr, who oversees the NGJ-LB program. “NGJ-LB is the next step in the evolution of Airborne Electronic Attack that is needed to meet current and emerging electronic warfare gaps, and our team is dedicated to delivering this capability to the fleet as quickly as possible.”

It was announced in March 2017 that Australia has invested $250 million in the NGJ program, and later that year signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Navy to develop the NGJ-MB capability.

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Kym Bergmann
Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


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