Successful SABER test paves way for EC-37B Compass Call upgrade

BAE Systems has successfully flight tested its Small Adaptive Bank of Electronic Resources (SABER) technology. 

Announcing the achievement on April 5, the company said it paves the way for a critical software upgrade to the Gulfstream EC-37B Compass Call next-generation electronic warfare aircraft. Teams from both BAE Systems and the US Air Force (USAF) conducted tests on 11 flights of an EC-130H from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

The SABER system is a major technological advance – transitioning from hardware to software-based electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) warfare capability for the USAF and its Compass Call weapon system. The system is built on a suite of software defined radios using an open system architecture and will provide the backbone of the EC-37B’s operating system.

EC-37B Compass Call [BAE Systems]
An artist's impression of the Gulfstream EC-37B Compass Call, with its predecessor, the EC-130H, in the distance behind. BAE Systems

Pam Potter, director of Electronic Attack Solutions at BAE Systems, said: “SABER allows flexibility to update systems without significant physical reconfiguration. It also adapts to new applications as well as revisions to existing applications. It is the technology that will enable the US Air Force to rapidly and proactively respond to emerging enemy threat systems.”

Additional SABER testing in 2021 will focus on simultaneity of engagement capacity, dynamic resource sharing, rapid integration and operation of multiple additional applications. Work on SABER is being conducted at BAE Systems’ facility in Hudson, New Hampshire.

The EC-37B, which is based on the Gulfstream G550 commercial business jet, will replace the current Compass Call aircraft, the EC-130H variant of the Hercules. An upgraded version of the prime mission equipment of the EC-130H will be re-hosted in the EC-37B. Ten EC-37Bs are to be acquired to replace 14 EC-130Hs. The first five will be to the latest baseline standard, while the remaining five will be to a further upgraded standard.

Initial operational capability with the first two EC-37Bs is anticipated by 2023. All ten will be operated by the 55th Electronic Combat Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, which flies the current EC-130H Compass Call aircraft. L3 Technologies is prime contractor for integration of the Compass Call system into the G550, provided by Gulfstream, while BAE Systems is responsible for development, procurement, production and integration of the electronic and mission equipment.