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USAF Awards Northrop F-16 Next-Gen Electronic Warfare Suite Contract

The US Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman an F-16 Next-Generation Electronic Warfare (NGEW) suite contract.

The 18-month “unpriced” contract will see the company develop and install the Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite (IVEWS), also referred to as the AN/ALQ-257, on several F-16s for flight testing. Production and fielding are expected to begin in 2024.

Northrop beat out L3 Harris last year to clinch the EW suite development contract, with the potential to equip as many as 450 F-16s.

Defeats ‘Radio Frequency-Guided Weapons’

The suite detects, identifies, and defeats “radio frequency-guided weapons,” increasing the aircraft’s survivability in contested environments.

The air force recently tested the suite’s interoperability with the onboard AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) in a “contested operational environment.”

While the SABR engaged multiple air and ground targets, the IVEWS employed advanced jamming capabilities to detect and identify a range of advanced threats.

Compatible With Next-gen Radar

Northrop Grumman vice president James Conroy said, “When an EW system and a radar are able to work together fully, as demonstrated with NGEW and SABR, pilots can take advantage of capability without compromise.” 

“With the radio frequency spectrum becoming increasingly contested, this critical set of capabilities will support the F-16 for many years to come.”

Open Architecture for Future Upgrades

The suite’s “ultra-wideband architecture” allows it to immediately provide the required bandwidth to defeat the threat. 

“It is designed to Open Missions Systems requirements and provisioned for long-term growth capability to support future upgrades such as the Fiber Optic Tow Decoy, Adaptive/Cognitive Processing, and Open System Architecture compliance,” the air force wrote.

F-16 System Program Manager Col. Tim Bailey said, “IVEWS had a fantastic year, moving from lab prototype to flight demonstration.”

“It has become Air Combat Command’s F-16 advanced fleet solution and a ‘must-have,’ top priority program. IVEWS will keep the Viper relevant and lethal throughout its extended service life.” 

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