Australia is nearing an agreement to join the US Navy's (USN's) AN/ALQ-249 Next Generation Jammer-Medium Band (NGJ-MB) programme as it seeks to 'future proof' its new EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack capability.
The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) confirmed on 5 July that representatives from the Australian Department of Defence are negotiating with NAVAIR's Airborne Electronic Attack Systems and EA-6B Program Office (PMA-234) and the Navy International Programs Office (Navy IPO) to come on board with the NGC-MB development, previously known as NGJ Increment 1.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is acquiring 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft under Project Air 5349 Phase 3, with initial operating capability planned for mid-2018. The aircraft will enter service with the same AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming system currently equipping the USN's EA-18G Growlers.
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems was awarded a USD1 billion contract by PMA-234 in April 2016 for engineering and manufacturing development of the NGJ-MB electronic attack pod as a replacement for ALQ-99 from 2021. Intended to provide the EA-18G with enhanced airborne electronic attack (EA) capabilities to disrupt and degrade enemy air defence and ground communication systems, the system represents a step change from ALQ-99 in terms of its software-based digital architecture, and use of high power active electronically scanned arrays based on gallium nitride technology.
PMA-234 completed a Critical Design Review (CDR) for the NGJ-MB in late April 2017. The CDR confirmed the maturity of the design and approved the fabrication and assembly of test articles.