Contractors compete to develop EW suite for F-16

Northrop Grumman and L3Harris Technologies have been selected to demonstrate a prototype electronic warfare (EW) solution for integration on the US Air Force's (USAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon fleet.

The two companies were selected by the air arm on November 14, under the System of Systems Consortium (SOSSEC)'s Air Force Open System Acquisition Other Transaction Agreement to each deliver a prototype for an internally mounted EW suite and digital radar warning receiver, for use aboard the service's F-16s. Northrop Grumman and L3Harris Technologies will now develop and test a prototype as part of the Alpha Phase of the USAF's F-16 Electronic Warfare Suite Program Prototype Project. 

Northrop Grumman to demonstrate EW suite for F-16
USAF F-16C (Block 30F) Fighting Falcon, 87-0261, operated by 176th Fighter Squadron (FS) "Badger Air Militia" as part of an expeditionary force from Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in August, 2019. USAF/SSgt Kiefer Bowes

The aim of the prototype project is to provide more spherical radar warning, threat identification and countermeasure capabilities to F-16 aircrews, protecting them against current and emerging electromagnetic spectrum threats. Both companies currently provide EW capabilities for other military aircraft - Northrop Grumman produces the EA-18G Growler's EW suite, whilst L3Harris Technologies' Advanced Airborne Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) pod is employed by the Turkish Air Force's F-16C fleet. The two defence contractors offer a platform which builds on advanced EW system architecture used in previous EW models to increase aircrew protection from threats, whilst laying the ground work for greater self-protection capabilities. 

Brent Toland, vice president of land and avionics C4ISR at Northrop Grumman, said: “Providing advanced electronic warfare capabilities to the F-16 community is critically important to the future survivability of the platform, especially as the electromagnetic spectrum becomes increasingly contested... Our system builds on our long experience with the F-16 and other military aircraft to provide the warfighter with the ability to operate seamlessly against the threats that are continuing to grow in sophistication."

F-16CM [Khalem Chapman]
USAF F-16CM (Block 50CF) Fighting Falcon, 90-0813, operated by the 480th FS "Warhawks", based at Spangdahlem, Germany, on display at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in 2017. Khalem Chapman

Ed Zoiss, president of Space and Airborne Systems at L3Harris, said: “[We're] delivering an integrated EW suite based on proven technologies from across the newly-merged companies that will provide F-16 pilots with the most sophisticated, high-performance EW needed to defeat advanced and emerging threats... We’re leveraging technology synergies and innovations from across the company as a result of the merger, perhaps none more exciting and game-changing for our customers than in the area of EW and spectrum dominance.”