USAF ‘Missionized’ Compass Call EW Aircraft Completes Maiden Flight

L3Harris has completed its maiden flight of the US Air Force’s “missionized” EC-37B Compass Call Cross Deck electronic warfare jet in Waco, Texas.

The four-hour test supports a US defense project started in 2017 to field 10 aircraft for future electronic warfare missions.

The EC-37B is being developed as a combination of BAE Systems’ Compass Call electronic attack weapon system installed on the Lockheed EC-130H aircraft and the Gulfstream G550 commercial business jet airframe.

Preparing 21st-Century Electronic Attack Aircraft

Compass Call is an airborne tactical technology that disrupts command and control communications, navigation, and radar systems.

The approach prevents enemies from transmitting data between vehicles, control networks, and armaments “to restrict adversary battlespace coordination.”

Since the 1980s, the Compass Call solution has been providing the legacy EC-130H aircraft with electronic attack capability.

EC-130H Compass Call supports CJTF-OIR
An EC-130H Compass Call electronic warfare aircraft at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, June 27, 2017. Image: US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Hehnly

“To meet new mission requirements and combat advanced threats, the Compass Call system will integrate with various aircraft in the future,” BAE Systems said.

“The system will specifically be cross-decked on the EC-37B when it enters service as a 21st century electronic attack platform.”

“The future possibilities for the system are vast, as the advanced technology combined with new aircraft integration will result in increased performance at faster speeds, longer ranges, and higher altitudes.”

EC-37B Development

The EC-37B’s inaugural flight was conducted in 2021 followed by final delivery of its key hardware in 2022.

The first two EC-37Bs are expected to achieve initial operational capability this year.

Once completed, the aircraft will be operated by the US Air Force 55th Electronic Combat Group to replace the service’s EC-130Hs.

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