NGJ-MB: Control the Spectrum
Raytheon Intelligence & Space’s Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band is an advanced electronic attack system that denies, disrupts and degrades enemy technology, including communication tools and air-defense systems.
Built with a combination of agile, active electronically scanned arrays and an all-digital back end, it gives E/A-18 GROWLER pilots an edge in the hotly contested electromagnetic spectrum.
– Operating at significantly enhanced ranges
– Attacking multiple targets simultaneously
– Advanced jamming techniques
– Rapid upgrades through a modular, open systems architecture
The U.S. Navy recently completed a portion of developmental testing of the Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) electronic warfare (EW) pod.
The program will enter flight testing at the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 by late June or early July 2020. The program’s Milestone C is projected for the end of this fiscal year and is expected to become operational in 2023.
“NGJ-LB is the next step in the evolution of Airborne Electronic Attack that is needed to meet current and emerging electronic warfare gaps, and our team is dedicated to delivering this capability to the fleet as quickly as possible,” said Capt. Michael Orr, Airborne Electronic Attack Systems (PMA-234) program manager. Orr spoke today at the EMS Summit, a virtual event conducted by the AOC.
NGJ-LB is part of a larger NGJ weapon system that will augment, and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) currently used for Airborne Electronic Attack on the EA-18G Growler aircraft.
Unlike most capabilities that instantly replace its predecessor, the NGJ-MB systems will initially augment the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System until the low- and high-band components are ready to deploy.
The United States’ adversaries are making progress in electronic warfare.
According to the 2018 report from the National Defense Strategy Commission, Russia and China’s focus on “acquiring capabilities to overcome America’s technological edge and operational reach” has eroded the U.S.’ military advantage in a number of areas, including electronic warfare.
With the pod onboard, Growler pilots can rapidly identify and defeat hostile actors in highly contested electromagnetic spectrum environments. Its linchpin is its active electronically scanned arrays, or AESAs, which radiate high power-jamming energy to turn out the enemy’s lights.
“(NGJ Mid-Band) is a powerhouse,” said Dan Theisen, a director at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, adding that the NGJ Mid-Band jamming system has increased capacity and power over the current system.
NGJ-MB uses agile AESA antenna technology and an all-digital back end. It also has digital and software-based tech embedded in the design, which increases the ability to jam and allows for rapid beam steering and advanced jammer modulation.
As for the future, NGJ-MB’s open systems architecture allows the system’s hardware and software to be upgraded quickly. A flexible design is crucial to match and defeat evolving sensing and jamming technologies in the electromagnetic spectrum. It can also house other offensive and defensive technologies to keep pilots safe.
Additionally, field modification kits can enable a variety of missions for the jammer, including communications and information operations. It could also be used on other tactical and wide-body platforms.
The NGJ-MB system consists of two pods, referred to as a shipset, which will be loaded onto EA-18G Growler aircraft. Production pods to be delivered to the US Navy and the Australian Air Force are expected to achieve initial operational capability in 2023.
The system will provide significantly improved Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) capabilities against advanced threats in the mid-band frequency range through enhanced agility and precision within jamming assignments, increased interoperability, and expanded broadband capacity for greater threat coverage against a wide variety of radio frequency emitters.
NGJ-MB Engineering Development Model (EDM) pods developed by the Raytheon Company in El Segundo, California completed more than 400 test hours on this ground testing phase, covering basic functionality, Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (E3) data collection, and performance evaluation over a period of three months.
“This chamber test period was instrumental to the NGJ-MB Developmental Test program, and its success was the direct result of outstanding teamwork among the Program Office, Integrated Test Team, and Raytheon stakeholders,” said Orr.
“Data captured during this period not only supports our initial flight clearance but also provided lessons learned that will benefit the entire NGJ-MB test program moving forward.”
Some of the tests were performed in the Air Combat Environmental Test and Evaluation Facility anechoic chamber at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
More tests will be done at the Air Combat Environmental Test and Evaluation Facility and the Facility for Antenna and RCS Measurement (FARM) through this summer. The 20-month DET contract has been a collaborative effort with industry partners to assess technical maturity.