US Navy gets first next-gen jammer for its Growler

The US Navy’s first AN/ALQ-249 next-generation jammer mid-band (NGJ-MB) production representative pods have arrived at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Patuxent River, Maryland.

The two fleet representative test articles, which make up an NGJ-MB shipset, were delivered to the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office (PMA-234) on 7 July.

Growler
Photo: US Navy

They will be used to complete the developmental test (DT) program and commence operational test (OT) that requires the use of operationally representative hardware and software.

“We will test the pods for everything we expect to encounter in the fleet. For example, the power they generate, the frequency range they operate in, and the effects we can achieve against expected targets across the spectrum,” Lt. Alexander Belbin, AEA project officer with NAWCAD’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 said.

The remainder of DT will be conducted by VX-23 and VX-31, located at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, California, and OT will be conducted by VX-9 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.

To date, NGJ-MB has successfully completed more than 300 hours of developmental flight testing and more than 5,000 hours of chamber and lab testing using the engineering development models that were designed specifically for DT.

NGJ-MB is part of a larger system that will augment and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 tactical jamming system currently used on the EA-18G Growler.

The US Navy will receive six shipsets from Raytheon Intelligence & Space, the original equipment manufacturer.

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Once the flight test program is complete, the pods will be sent to the fleet in conjunction with the first low rate initial production (LRIP) shipsets for initial operational capability (IOC), which is scheduled for fall 2023.

“It is imperative we deliver this …. electronic warfare capability to the warfighter as quickly as possible,” said Capt. Dave Rueter, PMA-234 program manager.

“Receiving the production representative pods allows us to finish the flight test program and ensure we have a reliable product for the U.S. Navy and our Royal Australian Air Force cooperative partners.”

To remind, the US Navy sailors and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) airmen participated in a six-week training event in February and March with the AN/ALQ-249 NGJ-MB pods that will be used on the EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Photo: US Navy