Northrop Grumman to provide electronic warfare suite for USAF F-16s

The US Air Force (USAF) has contracted Northrop Grumman to complete the prototyping efforts of its new electronic warfare (EW) suite, which will be integrated onto the service’s Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon fleet.

The company announced that it had received the contract – which was issued under the SOSSEC Consortium’s Air Force Open System Acquisition Initiative (OSAI) Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) – on January 11. It follows a contract award by the USAF in November 2019, when L3Harris Technologies and Northrop Grumman were selected to develop and demonstrate a new EW suite to enhance the protection of the service’s F-16C/Ds. The air force has now downselected the latter as the sole contractor for the new system.

F-16s [Northrop Grumman]
Northrop Grumman's new digital electronic warfare suite leverages an open systems, ultra-wideband architecture to provide greater bandwidth to the USAF's Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multi-role fighter fleet, allowing it to protect itself from and defeat modern threats. Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman states that its new digital EW suite “will protect pilots from the growing danger of radio frequency-guided weapons by detecting, identifying and defeating advanced threat systems.” It adds that the system provides new full-spectrum radar warning, threat identification and advanced countermeasure capabilities for the F-16. The company affirms that the EW suite has a “proven pulse-to-pulse operability” with the multi-role fighter’s new AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), which is also produced by Northrop Grumman.

Ryan Tintner, vice president of Navigation, Targeting and Survivability at Northrop Grumman, said: “The [EW] suite will significantly increase protection to F-16 operators as they execute their missions in increasingly contested environments. This system draws on the best of our experience from multiple programmes to create an effective and affordable solution to keep the ‘Viper’ relevant throughout its service life.”

This new EW suite is scalable in either an internally-fitted or externally-mounted pod configuration, allowing it to meet the operational demands of both the US and global F-16 operators. It leverages an open systems, ultra-wideband architecture to provide greater bandwidth for defeating modern threats.

Northrop Grumman states that this system is part of a mature product line that can be adapted to “protect virtually any platform or mission requirement. The firm adds that the new EW suite for the F-16 shares a baseline technology commonality with the AC/MC-130J Radio Frequency Countermeasures Program and AN/APR-39 radar warning receivers.