The U.S. Air Force and BAE Systems have moved the electronic warfare (EW) system of the EC-130H Compass Call onto what is to be the Air Force’s next generation EW plane, the BAE Systems’ EC-37B, the company said this week.
The Air Force “has collaborated with BAE Systems to cross-deck the company’s advanced Compass Call electronic warfare system onto its next-generation electronic warfare aircraft,” BAE Systems said. “It is a critical upgrade for the EC-37B Baseline 4 platform that comes on the 40th anniversary of Compass Call, and is facilitated by BAE Systems’ Small Adaptive Bank of Electronic Resources (SABER) technology.”
DoD’s primary EW aircraft have been the Navy EA-18G Growler by Boeing [BA] and the Lockheed Martin [LMT] Compass Call, as the Air Force hopes to field the EC-37B Compass Call Re-Host aircraft in the coming years. The EC-37B is based on the Gulfstream [GD] G550 business jet. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter also has an integrated EW suite.
Based on a suite of open architecture, software-defined radios, SABER is to allow easy EW upgrades and is to be the backbone of the EC-37B’s operating system, BAE Systems said.
SABER “is a leading-edge upgrade that integrates third-party apps, giving aircrews the capability to respond to threats faster than ever before,” Pam Potter, BAE Systems’ director of electronic attack solutions, said in a statement.
BAE Systems said in April that it had conducted 11 SABER flight tests aboard a Compass Call from Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz., to move toward a “critical software upgrade” for the Air Force fielding of the EC-37B (Defense Daily, Apr. 6).
Compass Call has been in the fleet since 1981 to disrupt enemy communications, radar, and navigation systems.
BAE Systems said that it has been developing Compass Call Baseline 4 for the EC-37B at its plants in Hudson and Nashua, N.H.; Burlington, Mass; San Diego; and Dallas, Texas.
In June, the Air Force stood up the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing under Air Combat Command to focus on offensive electronic warfare (EW) (Defense Daily, June 25). Temporarily located at Eglin AFB, Fla., while the service conducts an environmental review of a permanent location, the wing is to consolidate all Air Force electromagnetic spectrum efforts.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown has said that the service has not focused on EW and has allowed its diminution since Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Brown said that while defensive EW has sufficed against threats from foreign violent extremists, the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing will be critical in countering the advanced capabilities of Russia and China.
In January, Brown said that the Air Force has been “using the same [EW] systems that we’ve been using over the course of the past 25 to 30 years, or actually probably since I was a young captain.”