Raytheon's Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) has been under development now since 2013. In 2016 the US Navy awarded the company a 1 billion dollar engineering and manufacturing development contract for the NGJ system slated to replace the ALQ-99 legacy systems used in the EA-18G electronic attack aircraft.
Next Generation Jammers will be built with cutting-edge solid-state electronics to provide quicker reaction and precise directivity to enhance the EA-18G's superior mission performance. In an ever more complex electronic battlespace, the NGJ will provide a reliable, low-risk jamming solution. Raytheon is leaving the door open for future innovation, calling the NGJ effort the "baseline solution with opportunities for growth on additional manned and unmanned platforms."
Radar and Jamming Countermeasures
Radar revolutionized the way wars are fought by eliminating the important element of surprise in aerial and seaborne attacks. As is always the rule in electronic warfare, invention breeds innovation and engineers quickly turned their efforts to defeating radar's advantage with new countermeasure technologies.
Initial countermeasures were mechanical, such as distributing metallic chaff which cluttered and confused the electromagnetic spectrum, effectively camouflaging the attack aircraft by providing multiple target echoes.
Eventually, engineers turned to using the RF spectrum itself to deceive and confuse enemy radar with spot jamming. This technique interfered with radar frequencies and degraded the ability to spot aircraft and ships. That countermeasure triggered the development of frequency agile radar, setting the stage for broader spectrum barrage jamming. This is what dynamic engineers deal with today, a never-ending succession of measures vs. countermeasures, known as ECM vs. ECCM.
Modular Open System Approach (MOSA)
Anticipating the need for constant upgrades to stay ahead of the game in the ECM vs. ECCM theater, Raytheon is developing the NGJ using the Modular Open System Approach to the electronics, taking advantage of easier upgrades with digital technologies. Increment 1 of NGJ deployment will provide mid-band jamming capabilities where current threats are most common. The Navy's EA-18G Growler will be the first platform for the NGJ.
The NGJ will be replacing Northrop Grumman's AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) first developed in the 1960s for the EA-6 Prowler and modernized to the ICAP III standard. The analog systems these EW pods rely on have reliability issues and are difficult to maintain. The Navy has seen a "compelling need" to move beyond the old technology's capabilities and maintenance demands since 2002, according to this article at Defense Industry Daily.
NGJ, AESA, and the EA-18G Growler
Low-band jamming is expected to be added to the NGJ as well as high-band jamming upgrades later in Increment 3, giving the Navy a high-band jamming capability it doesn't have at this time. For now, the NGJ and the EA-18G Growler will be a formidable combination, using advanced jamming technology to permit strike aircraft to destroy enemy targets without being detected.
The heart of the NGJ concept is the AESA, Advanced Electronic Scanned Array, enabling the carrier deployed Growlers to jam multiple frequencies simultaneously. This ability to jam more radars at one time will protect against both ground and air-based radar preventing enemy forces from getting a missile lock on attacking aircraft.
The Growler will carry the NGJ in two 15-foot pods, one jammer for each side of the aircraft. The high-powered jammers can deal with modern air-to-ground threats brought about by phased array radars, higher power, processing, and advanced waveforms. The open architecture of the NGJ is designed to allow quick integration as new threats emerge, such as new aircraft. The Growler's programmable mission planning system can be used to devise new jamming techniques.
Cmdr. Ernest Winston, Electronic Attack Requirements Officer, says in an interview at defensesystems.com, "It is a constant cat and mouse game between the shooter and the strike aircraft. We develop stealth and they develop counter-stealth technologies. We then counter it with increased jamming capabilities."
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