Northrop Grumman demonstrates next gen EW, radar interoperability at Exercise Northern Lightning

The Northrop Grumman Next Generation Electronic Warfare system, making its first flight, joined the AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar at Exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field in Wisconsin.

Exercise Northern Lightning ran Aug. 9-20, 2021, and included  about 60 aircraft and nearly 1,000 personnel from the National Guard, Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy. Aircraft and personnel from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., also took part. Northern Lightning is a tactical-level, joint training exercise replicating today’s air battle space with current and future weapons platforms. 

NGEW and SABR demonstrated full interoperability in a realistic and contested electromagnetic spectrum environment.

“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,” said James Conroy, vice president, navigation, targeting and survivability, Northrop Grumman. “With the radio frequency spectrum becoming increasingly contested, this critical set of capabilities will support the F-16 for many years to come.”

Flying on the company’s test bed aircraft, NGEW and SABR demonstrated full pulse-to-pulse, multi-function interoperability in a contested operational environment. With SABR successfully engaging multiple air and ground targets, NGEW detected and identified a range of advanced threats, employing advanced jamming techniques capable of defeating those threats when required.

At the exercise, the two systems faced a high-density radio frequency environment generated by the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Joint Threat Emitters. These threat emitters allowed Northern Lightning participants to fly missions under conditions representative of near-peer electromagnetic spectrum environments.

NGEW leverages an open-systems, ultra-wideband architecture, providing the instantaneous bandwidth needed to defeat modern threats. This F-16 system is part of a mature product line of electronic warfare capabilities that can be adapted to virtually any platform. An F-16 will fly with the safety of flight-certified NGEW system in the summer of 2022.

Building on a 40-year legacy of producing radars for the F-16, Northrop Grumman provides the SABR APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array fire control radar for the F-16 with advanced capabilities derived from Northrop Grumman’s family of highly successful 5th generation fighter AESA radars. The greater bandwidth, speed and agility of the APG-83 enables the F-16 to detect, track and identify a greater number of targets faster and at longer ranges. In addition, it features all-weather, high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping to present the pilot with a large surface image for more precise target identification and strike compared to legacy systems.

The agreement was issued under SOSSEC Consortium’s Air Force Open System Acquisition Initiative Other Transaction Agreement for prototyping. Northrop Grumman will continue to team with non-traditional defense contractors for the execution of this OTA project.

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