Air Force’s Compass Call Replacement Clears Preliminary Design Review

The EC-X, the planned replacement for the U.S. Air Force’s aging EC-130H Compass Call electronic-attack aircraft, underwent a preliminary design review in late September, according to L3 Technologies [LLL], the program’s system integrator.

L3 also said in a brief statement Oct. 12 that it has begun “working” on the first General Dynamics [GD] Gulfstream G550 business jet that it will convert into an EC-X. While L3 did not elaborate, the Air Force has said that the New York City-based company will migrate mission equipment from the old aircraft, a heavily modified C-130, to the new one.

An EC-130H Compass Call flies a training mission over Lake Mead, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

An EC-130H Compass Call flies a training mission over Lake Mead, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force Photo)

The migration, also called a “re-host” or “cross-deck,” involves transferring antenna array components, avionics, wiring, operator consoles, power supplies and other equipment, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). In August, the GAO upheld the Air Force’s selection of L3, denying protests by Boeing [BA] and Bombardier.

The Air Force plans to buy 10 new aircraft to replace its 14 Compass Calls. The first EC-X is slated for delivery in late 2021.

The fiscal year 2017 omnibus appropriations act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in May, provided $103 million to launch the EC-X program (Defense Daily, May 15).

Compass Call, which achieved an initial operational capability in 1983, disrupts enemy command-and-control communications. L3 has maintained the fleet for the past 15 years.





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