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USAF Electronic Warfare Aircraft Conducts Maiden Flight

The US Air Force’s (USAF) EC-37B Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft completed its inaugural flight recently, developer L3Harris Technologies announced Wednesday.

The Florida-based defense contractor clinched the EC-37B system integrator contract to upgrade the existing fleet of 10 EC-130H Compass Call aircraft in 2017. According to the contract, the upgrade requires transferring the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft’s mission systems, built by BAE Systems, to a new airframe.

New Airframe, Enhanced Capability

L3Harris chose the Gulfstream G550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning Aircraft airframe for the new aircraft, equipping it with the EC-130H’s electronic warfare system. According to Breaking Defense, the new aircraft will also receive additional sensors and communication gears for enhanced stand-off jamming capability. 

L3Harris says that the aircraft will have a modular design to accommodate future integration of new technologies and systems. It will also possess greater speed and range than the existing EC-130H, introduced in the early 80s, with 50 percent less weight and operating costs. The USAF expects to receive a fleet of 10 EC-37Bs, with the first two scheduled in 2023.

Airborne Electronic Attack Weapon System

According to BAE Systems, the Compass Call airborne tactical electronic attack weapon system disrupts “enemy command and control communications, radar, and navigation systems” to throw its battlespace coordination into disarray.

“The weapon system supports the suppression of enemy air defenses by preventing the transmission of essential information between adversaries, their weapon systems, and control networks,” it added.

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