BAE Systems said on March 2 that it has begun low-rate initial production of the company’s Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS) for Boeing [BA] F-15Es under a $58 million subcontract from Boeing.
Last Dec. 31, the U.S. Air Force awarded Boeing a $189.2 million contract for “government furnished property repair as well as acquisition of Group A and B kits, support equipment, mod line standup, technical orders and interim contractor support efforts for the LRIP of the EPAWSS systems.”
The Air Force tasked Boeing with EPAWSS integration on the F-15E and BAE Systems with developing the system under a 2015 contract, and the service finished the first round of EPAWSS testing in 2019 (Defense Daily, Apr. 15, 2020). EPAWSS is to replace the F-15’s Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) self-protection suite, a 1970s-era system which is “functionally obsolete” and costly to sustain, the Air Force has said.
EPAWSS is also to be the self-protection suite for the Boeing F-15EX. The Air Force may install EPAWSS on its full fleet of 217 F-15Es and up to 144 F-15EXs, per BAE Systems.
“The all-digital EPAWSS enables pilots to monitor, jam, and deceive threats in contested airspace,” the company said on March 2. “The system combines multispectral sensors and countermeasures, industry-leading signal processing, microelectronics, and intelligent algorithms to deliver fully integrated radar warning, situational awareness, geo-location, and self-protection capabilities.”
BAE Systems said that during the Engineering and Manufacturing Phase, the company is incrementally adding geolocation and threat identification features to the EPAWSS flight software.
“As a result, system performance continues to improve in ground/flight test and in dense signal environments in hardware-in-the-loop (HiTL) tests at the U.S. Air Force’s Integrated Demonstrations and Applications Laboratory,” the company said.
The service has estimated that EPAWSS will cost $2.7 billion for Increment 1 for the F-15E through 2023 and Increment 2 thereafter.
Increment 1 replaces the existing radar warning receiver, internal countermeasure system and countermeasure dispenser system, while Increment 2 is to add a towed decoy and monopulse angle countermeasure capability.
EPAWSS “will significantly improve the F-15’s capability to autonomously and automatically detect, identify and locate radio frequency (RF) threats as well as provide the ability to deny, degrade, deceive, disrupt and defeat RF and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) threat systems in contested and unplanned operations within highly contested environments through 2040,” the Air Force said. “F-15 EPAWSS will provide indication, type and position of ground-based RF threats as well as the indication, type and bearing of airborne threats with the situational awareness needed to avoid, engage or negate the threat.”
In addition, EPAWSS will prevent RF and IR threat systems “from detecting or acquiring accurate targeting information prior to threat engagement to complicate and/or negate an enemy threat targeting solution and effectively counter enemy missiles/weapons if adversary threat systems engage and employ weapons against friendly forces through components such as chaff, flares, decoys/angle countermeasures and jamming,” the Air Force said.
In anticipation of EPAWSS LRIP and other EW efforts, BAE Systems said that it has invested “more than $100 million in world-class EW laboratories and factories, and has grown its workforce of innovative, mission-focused experts.”
In February 2017 the Air Force canceled plans to upgrade the service’s 196 F-15Cs with EPAWSS, per a May, 2018 DoD Inspector General report. In that report, the Air Force said that it planned to forego the EPAWSS upgrades for the F-15C because of the aircraft’s upcoming retirement.