The U.S. Air Force has awarded L3Harris [LHX] a contract worth up to $947 million over 10 years for the company’s AN/ALQ-172 countermeasures program and modernization.
Work will take place at L3Harris in Clifton, N.J., and covers “engineering services for block cycle, non-block cycle and sustaining engineering services and for Air Force Global Strike Command enhancement modernizations,” the Air Force said in a DoD contracts announcement on Aug. 31.
The Air Force’s 76 B-52Hs rely on a variety of electronic warfare (EW) systems against threats, such as air defense radars (Defense Daily, Oct. 29, 2020). Current B-52 EW systems include the L3Harris AN/ALQ-172 and the Northrop Grumman [NOC] AN/ALQ-155.
Lockheed Martin [LMT] MC-130 Combat Talons and AC-130 gunships have also carried ALQ-172s.
“Continuous upgrades to the ALQ-172 have incorporated geolocation situational awareness capability on the B-52, advanced counter-measures in response to modern threats, and new technologies to improve performance, maintainability, and supportability,” per L3Harris. “The ALQ-172(V)3 provides extended frequency coverage required to counter new and emerging threats. Looking to the future, L3Harris is developing the next ALQ-172 system upgrade designed to meet the needs of the B-52 and its crew through 2040. The ALQ-172 MARS upgrade reduces system weight and power requirements while further improving system performance, maintainability, and reliability. MARS improves system performance by adding the latest processing and digital receivers through the use of FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array)-based technology.”
Malfunctions in and repair of the AN/ALQ-172 system once caused the highest cost per flying hour (CPFH) of any system on the B-52 before changes made to the ALQ-172 in the late 1990s, per the Federation of American Scientists.