Northrop Grumman [NOC] said on Apr. 11 that its AN/ALQ-257 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite (IVEWS) for U.S. Air Force F-16 fighters has completed Air Force Laboratory Intelligence Validated Emulator (LIVE) testing.

“The system exceeded multiple benchmarks and demonstrated the ability to counter modern radio frequency (RF) threats,” the company said in a statement.” This was the first time the ultra-wideband architecture in IVEWS underwent LIVE testing.”

Last year, Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) said that the command’s Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate issued an unpriced change order (UCO) to Northrop Grumman for IVEWS and that AFMC plans to begin IVEWS production and fielding

this year (Defense Daily, March 16, 2022).

James Conroy, vice president of navigation, targeting and survivability at Northrop Grumman, said in the company’s Apr. 11 statement that the “successful evaluation” of the LIVE testing “under very challenging conditions is an important step on the path to fielding the suite.”

“During the test, simulated air defense radar pulses were injected directly into IVEWS to verify the suite’s ability to recognize and counter advanced threats,” per Northrop Grumman. “The signals used in LIVE testing are validated models that provide realistic representations of radio frequency threats. LIVE is an intelligence validated, closed-loop RF direct-injection threat radar emulator based on threat capabilities and features. It allows for the testing electronic warfare systems in realistic environments.”

“Fully digital and founded on secure, modular, open systems design principles, the receiver/exciter architecture in IVEWS provides significant advantages over heritage systems,” the company said. “This technology allows for extended frequency coverage, full spatial coverage, and more rapid responses. Featuring highly efficient broadband power amplifiers and adaptive countermeasure modulations, it is designed to detect, identify, locate, and defeat next generation sensors and weapons.”

While IVEWS beat out the L3Harris [LHX] AN/ALQ-254(V)1 Viper Shield for equipping U.S. F-16s, L3Harris anticipates that its system may one day go on U.S. F-16s.

The ALQ-257 “leverages an open systems, ultra wideband architecture providing greater instantaneous bandwidth needed to defeat modern threats” and “shares a common technology baseline with the AC/MC-130J Radio Frequency Countermeasures Program and (Northrop Grumman) AN/APR-39 radar warning receivers,” Northrop Grumman has said.

IVEWS “is vital to increase the protection of our F-16 operators as they execute their missions in contested environments,” Air Force Maj. Charles Prichard, chief of electronic warfare integration at AFMC’s Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate, said in an AFMC statement last year.
AFMC said then that IVEWS will allow future upgrades for the F-16, including the fiber optic towed decoy, adaptive/cognitive processing, and Open System Architecture compliance.
In January, the Air Force, Lockheed Martin [LMT] and L3Harris held a critical design review for the Viper Shield electronic warfare system for foreign military sales (FMS) of the Block 70/72 F-16 fighter (Defense Daily, Feb. 1).
The U.S. government “offers interested FMS countries a choice of EW systems on F-16 Block 70/72 Foreign Military Sales aircraft, which is typically determined by performance requirements and their ministry of defense preferences,” AFMC said in February. “Each FMS partner, as a sovereign entity, chooses the EW solution that is the best overall fit for their needs. Competition among EW suppliers often results in improved performance and lower costs for all F-16 partners, including the USAF.”