Next Generation Jammer takes flight on Growler

The US Navy completed the first mission systems flight of its Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) pod aboard a Boeing EA-18G Growler from Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, Maryland, on August 7.

This inaugural flight was conducted by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) ‘Salty Dogs’. It was a safety of flight (SOF) checkout, which was performed to ensure that the NGJ-MB pods can be safely flown aboard the EA-18G Growler in follow-on test flights.

EA-18G [US Navy/Erik Hildebrandt]
A US Navy EA-18G Growler - BuNo 169220 (c/n G153) - from VX-23 'Salty Dogs' at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, conducted the NGJ-MB's inaugural flight on August 7. US Navy/Erik Hildebrandt

Capt Michael Orr, the US Navy’s Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) Systems programme manager, said: “What an incredible day for the US Navy, our Australian partners, and the [AEA] community… We witnessed a successful first flight with the NGJ-MB capability fully integrated onto the EA-18G Growler, validating the last four years of development and the extensive efforts of these last several months in preparation. I’m extremely proud of the entire government and industry team.”

Developed by Raytheon Intelligence and Space, the NGJ-MB will replace the EA-18G’s legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS). It is an external jamming pod that will provide enhanced AEA capabilities to disrupt, deny and degrade enemy air defence and ground communication systems. The NGJ-MB has been designed to counter advanced and emerging threats using digital, software-based and active electronically-scanned array (AESA) technologies.

Lt Jonathon Parry, the NGJ-MB’s aeromechanical project officer, said: “The AEA community has been relying on the ALQ-99 TJS for decades… Gone are the days of isolated surface-to-air missile systems that operate on a small frequency spectrum and do not integrate into a larger Integrated Air [Defence] System. Modern adversaries are developing complex emitters that use advanced techniques to defeat legacy jamming. NGJ-MB will provide new capabilities to the fleet to ensure spectrum dominance against current and future threats.”