Last month the Navy received the first Raytheon Technologies [RTX] Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) production-representative pods for use in Navy testing at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Patuxent River, Md.
On Aug. 8 the service said it received the first two fleet representative test articles on July 7. These two test pieces make up a single NGJ-MB shipset and were specifically delivered to the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office (PMA-234) pod shop. There they will be used to finish the developmental test (DT) program and begin operational testing (OT) that requires the use of operationally representative hardware and software.
“We will test the pods for everything we expect to encounter in the fleet. For example, the power they generate, the frequency range they operate in, and the effects we can achieve against expected targets across the spectrum,” Lt. Alexander Belbin, AEA project officer with NAWCAD’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, said in a statement.
The rest of DT will be performed by VX-23 and VX-31 at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., whereas OT will be done by VX-9 at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.
The Navy noted thus far the NGJ-MB has had over 5,000 hours of chamber and lab testing using Engineering Development Models specifically designed for the DT.
Belbin argued the increased power and capacity of NGJ-MB to target multiple systems will be major enhancements over the legacy ALQ-9 system currently used on the EA-18Growlers.
“I have flown the Growler in the fleet and will eventually be going back. I may one day fly missions with the very pods that we will be testing for the first time,” Belbin said.
The Navy expects to receive six shipsets of the NGJ-MB from Raytheon. When the flight test program finishes, the pods will then be sent to the fleet along with the first Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) shipsets for the Initial Operational Capability (IOC). IOC is currently scheduled for fall 2023.
The overall NGJ program is replacing the legacy ALQ-99 jammer by dividing into low, mid and high-band frequency contract increments. NGJ-MB is the first increment
In 2021, Navy leadership approved NGJ-MB for Milestone C, paving the way for LRIP (Defense Daily, June 30, 2021.)
Thereafter, the Navy awarded Raytheon the first LRIP Lot One contact for the first three NGJ-MB shipsets, with the first orders expected to be delivered by October 2023 (Defense Daily, July 6, 2021).
However, the FY 2021 annual report from the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), released in January, said the mid-band jammer faces several challenges to demonstrate operational effectiveness and suitability as it moves to initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) (Defense Daily, Jan. 28).