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Negotiating the Naval EW labyrinth.

I fit were located almost anywhere else, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) would probably be easy to find. Road signs would announce your imminent arrival; passersby would be able to direct you within a block of your destination, if not to the building itself.

But NAVAIR is located in Crystal City, on one of the many cul de sacs within the maze of government and military office buildings that snakes through Washington, DC, and its suburbs. As it is just one more nook among the crannies, little has been done to help a NAVAIR visitor reach his destination. No signs indicate NAVAIR's hiding place, and few if any of the area's average citizens appear aware of its coordinates. In fact, a random sampling of Naval officers and enlisted men on the street indicated the location may be a secret within the service itself.

But anyone with an interest in Naval airborne EW has taken out his compass, hired a guide and made the trek to Jefferson Plaza One, right beside the Holiday Inn -- if not literally than figuratively, through news reports, telephone calls and the industry grapevine. For NAVAIR is the home of three centers of Navy EW expertise: the Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare Systems Office (REWSON), the Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems program office and PMA-234, from which the EA-6B is managed. Like our wandering visitor, these program offices themselves are also negotiating a labyrinth -- one composed of competing technologies, changing threats and finite resources. How well each plots a course through this maze will greatly affect the safety and survival of Navy fixed-wing and helicopter pilots well into the next century.


The busiest hub of EW activity within NAVAIR is REWSON (PMA-253). Headed by CAPT Dennis Fandrei, REWSON is currently being restructured to accommodate its merger with PMA-212, the Fleet EW Support Group (FEWSG) program office. Captain Fandrei served as program manager of FEWSG before he replaced the retiring CAPT Zeke Zardeskas at REWSON's helm last year.

The addition of FEWSG responsibilities will further crowd REWSON's already full plate of programs. With the exception of the ALQ-99 and the Airborne Self-Protection Jammer (ASPJ), all airborne EW equipment falls within REWSON's purview. It influences EW research and development; oversees the spending of 6.2, 6.3 and 6.4 funds; directs the test and evaluation of systems under development; awards development and production contracts; and guides the transition of new equipment into the field. This work involves significant liaison with the user community and platform program offices to develop system requirements (its work with the A-X office to help determine self-protection needs for that aircraft is a current example), and with vendors to see that these requirements are fulfilled.

RWRs, Jammers and Missile


REWSON currently is tending several programs in the areas of radar warning receivers (RWRs), jammers and missile approach warners (MAWs). For example, two efforts are underway to upgrade the Navy's RWR capabilities. Under Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 510, Litton ATD was awarded a $28.7 million contract last October to upgrade its ALR-67 RWR with a new processor. The contract covers 117 systems, with an additional follow-on award for 113 units expected, according to a Litton press statement. The new processor will improve signal detection and processing capabilities, as well as arrival direction accuracy. Inertial navigation stabilization of the display signal during combat maneuvers, training modes for pilot selection of passive detection and tracking and improved capability against threat signals in power projection and fleet defense roles also will be part of the upgrade.

Units are now being delivered for follow-on test and evaluation, which began this summer at the Navy's facilities in China Lake, CA. The tests, which will include both flight and ground examinations, are expected to run through the end of this year, with a full production decision following in 1992, according to Captain Frandrei.

The second effort is more far reaching. The Advanced Special Receiver (ASR) -- nomenclatured the ALR-67(ASR) -- is destined to replace the present ALR-67 as the service's standard RWR late in this decade. The system has been described as providing "between one and two orders of magnitude improvement" over current RWRs, including the ECP-510 version of the ALR-67. A team of Hughes and AEL was awarded a full-scale engineering development (FSED) contract, reported to be worth approximately $34 million, in the fall of 1989 (see "Hughes, AEL Dark Horse Victors for Navy ALR-67 (ASR) RWR Program," JED, October, 1989, p. 30). IBM joined the team shortly thereafter.

Hughes, the prime contractor, is responsible for program management, systems engineering, software development and ILS. The three companies will split hardware development, with AEL tackling the radomes, antennas and millimeter-wave electronics; Hughes working on the quadrant receiver and ASR WRAs; and IBM providing the central processor WRA (Hughes will provide a processor module, incorporating its latest 32-bit technology, for this unit as well). However, the three will split production of the 12 FSED units. The development is scheduled to run through September of next year.

Major subcontractors include Lambda Novatronix on the low-voltage power supply, TECOM on the microwave antennas and Phase Two Industries on software requirements for external interfaces.

Hardware and software critical design reviews were successfully completed earlier this year, and brassboard systems are expected to be delivered this fall. The remaining 10 development systems (service test models) are to be delivered in 1992. Developmental testing at China Lake is scheduled to begin in early FY 1993; operational testing will follow, either in late FY 1993 or early in FY 1994. Production will begin in FY 1995, if the current schedule holds.

This progress has occurred despite the loss of APN-1 "new buy" money due to congressional action. "We always can use more money," Captain Fandrei commented. "But as far as the minimum amount of money, ASR has been adequately funded. However, we do need extra money for certain modifications -- A-Kit modifications, maybe a little bit more integration with other pieces of gear, i.e., ASPJ and some other sensor suites.... We are addressing any funding issues as they come up."

While REWSON is not responsible for the ALQ-99 and ASPJ, RF jamming remains within its domain. Two systems from Lockheed Sanders, the ALQ-126B and the ALQ-149, are part of platform upgrades on which REWSON is assisting. The ALQ-126B will be part of the Integrated Defensive Avionics Program (IDAP), designed to provide an integrated avionics capability to the A-6E SWIP Block 1 aircraft. The ALQ-126B is designed to defeat pulse radar threats. Meanwhile, the ALQ-149 communications/radar jammer will be fitted into the EA-6B Prowler. (More will be said about these two efforts later.)

REWSON also manages an inventory of IR jammers, principally the ALQ-157 from Loral Electro-Optical Systems. The ALQ-157 has been installed on a variety of Navy and Marine helicopters, and is capable of operating on fixed-wing platforms as well.

"We're looking at some upgrades," said Captain Fandrei. "There are upgrades that involve higher-intensity lamps, etc." The timing of these enhancements, however, is highly dependent on "the availability of the equipment and money to test [them], he added.

The captain is also looking at missile approach warning. The principal systems currently on the Navy's roster are the ALQ-156 radar-based active system from Sanders and Loral Infrared and Imaging Systems' passive AAR-47. Both systems are currently operating on Navy and Marine Corps helicoppters alongside the ALQ-157.

"We don't have a lot of missile appproach warning systems on fixed-wing aircraft right now," admitted Captain Fandrei. This should change soon, however. The ALQ-156 is part of the IDAP package for the A-6E, while the AAR-47 is being modified "for other platforms that involve fixed wing. We're changing the algorithms," according to Captain Fandrei. This process, including testing and transition, could be completed "within the next couple of years, but it's purely money dependent" in the captain's estimation. Meanwhile, REWSON is keeping in close contact with the Air Force, which is also reviewing its MAW options (see "It's Decision Time for Missile Warning," JED, August 1991, p. 33).

In the shorter term, REWSON is reviewing bids for further production of the AAR-47. According to industry sources, the RFP called for an initial run of 250 systems. An additional option, due to expire this month, could double that quantity. Westinghouse, Hughes, AEL and Lockheed Sanders are believed to have joined Loral in submitting bids.

Expendables Are Anything But

Of course, once these systems do their job, the incoming missile must be evaded. REWSON is currently working on a new generation of expendables and dispensers for this purpose. For example, the ALE-47 Dispensing System is being developed under a joint program with the Air Force (with Army involvement) to replace the venerable ALE-39. The system is being developed by Tracor, which is working on engineering development models. Both services will test the system, with the unit most likely finding its way eventually to China Lake and the Air Force range at Eglin AFB, FL.

Another system which is having its tires kicked is the BOL chaff dispenser produced by Bofors of Sweden. Several units have been delivered to the Navy, which is wrapping up operational evaluation. The Navy is "pleased" with the performance of the system so far, according to Capptain Fandrei.

One of the unique aspects of the BOL dispenser is that it is mounted in the LAU-7 missile launcher (see "Navy Evaluating Radically Different Chaff Dispenser," JED, October 1990, p. 22). "What it does is give you a chaff capability over and above what you currently have," explained Captain Fandrei. "It frees up the ALE-47 to have other expendables than chaff. You can have flares, GEN-X, POET -- you can have more of those rather than carry around a lot of chaff."

The GEN-X expendable to which the captain referred is another new system currently in development. The active decoy will use MMIC and VHSIC circuitry


to pack enough power to jam incoming missiles in a small package. Texas Instruments is the prime contractor on the program, which just entered the operational evaluation phase. GEN-X differs from the previous-generation POET expendables in "frequency expansion, frequency capability and modulation," according to Captain Fandrei. "We're talking apples and oranges. The POET was originally designed for a certain threat, and GEN-X . . . has different purposes."

The expanded capabilities of the GEN-X won't come without a price tag. According to previously published reports (see "US Expendable Technology Continues Evolving," JED, December 1990, p. 36), early per-unit costs could run as high as $7,000. However, advances in MMIC technology and production efficiencies should eventually bring unit costs below $5,500, according to a Navy source.

NAVAIR is also taking the lead in the Straight-Through Repeater Antenna Performance (STRAP) program, which is a triservice effort to develop a low-cost RF decoy, again using MMIC technology. Lockheed Sanders, Raytheon, Texas Instruments and Tracor are working the problem under separate contracts. Engineering development is expected to begin in fiscal 1993.

Along with these free-falling decoys, REWSON is also shepherding towed efforts. The ALE-50 Advanced Airborne Expendable Decoy (A2ED), built by the team of Raytheon (leader) and Hughes (follower), is currently undergoing developmental testing. Designed to counter monopulse radars, the decoy may be retrievable, but this assertion has not been confirmed. A forward-fired version of the A2ED also is in the works.

The other towed effort is called Big Boy. This retrievable countermeasure is being jointly developed by Tracor and Boeing; it is currently undergoing flight tests.

Putting It All Together

In addition to managing these discrete systems, REWSON is working to integrate them to meet future threats more efficiently. The aforementioned IDAP effort for the A-6E is the primary example of this effort. SWIP Block 1 aircraft will be equippped with a suite comprising the ALQ-156(A) MAW, ALQ-126B jammer, ALR-67 RWR, ALE-50 towed decoy and a dispenser, either the ALE-39 or -47.

The IDAP effort began in the mid-1980s, when the Navy began to explore the feasibility of using the ALQ-156 on high-speed aircraft. Following a risk-reduction phase, Lockheed Sanders won a $30.9 million award to adapt the MAW for this purppose. These enhancements included changes to the receiver/transmitter, a buffer box and associated antennas. The buffer box is a compputer/controller which will communicate with the A-6E's on-board avionics via a MIL-STD-1553 data bus.

Grumman is installing the IDAP suite on a test A-6E under a contract awarded in May of this year. Initial testing began this summer, with operation evaluation expected to be completed by 1994. Live missile firings are to be part of these tests; the ALQ-156 has already successfully dodged missiles as part of the Air Force's Eglin program.

Of course, with the age of INEWS at hand, Captain Fandrei expects similar integrated systems to become part of the Navy's EW inventory. NAVAIR has officers at Wright-PPatterson AFB keeping tabs on the program.

REWSON also is making its expertise available to the A-X program office. "The A-X offices kind of do their own thing," explained Captain Fandrei. "Across the board, including EW. This office . . . talks to them about what their requirements are. We, PMA-253, react to the requirements and the requirements only.... They have an operational requirement that they're working and they have ways to try to meet that requirement. If any of our technology can be transferred, it obviously will. If not, they work with the contractors to try to develop some of their technology."

Training a New Responsibility

The addition of FEWSG to the REWSON roster will bring EW management and training under the control of one office. FEWSG's primary mission is to provide EW training to the fleet, using its airborne assets to simulate a battlefield electromagnetic environment. The group performs "hundreds" of training missions annually, according to Captain Fandrei, each tailored to the fleet commander's needs. These training missions can be flown against battle groups or subsets, including individual ships.

FEWSG is currently undergoing more than an administrative change. The group's assets are evolving to meet current and projected demands. As shown in Table 1, the composition of the group is changing dramatically. The most notable of these changes is the addition of F/A-18 and EA-6B aircraft. Even these adjustments are not enough, according to Captain Fandrei.

"The EA-6B is an interim replacement for the ERA-3B," he said. "In the out years I'm hoping to replace the ERA-3B with a like asset, meaning I'm [presently] taking the ERA-3B's capability out of the FEWSG inventory. It's unique. [Requirements for the ERA-3B] will be somewhat met by the EA-6B, but not totally met."

As always, how quickly this evolution occurs will be determined by the availability of funding and aircraft, said the captain.



Thanks to the Defense Acquisitions Board (DAB), the trail has been cleared recently for continued production of the ALQ-165 Airborne Self Protection Jammer. In its June ruling, the DAB appproved further low-rate initial production (LRIP) awards, plus issued instructions for gathering bids on various options up to the total remaining inventory. This should be extensive, given the fact that the F-14D and the F/A-18C, D, E and F are all currently slated to receive the system.

The DAB decision was good news for PMA-272 and its head, CAPT Matt Small. PMA-272 is the home of ASPJ management; indeed, its name will soon change from the Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems Program Office to the ASPJ Program Office to reflect this fact. PMA-272 encompasses 15 people (four of which are military). While PMA-272 technically is outside of NAVAIR's chain of command thanks to the Defense Management Report, an operating agreement enables the office to interface with NAVAIR for program support, as shown in the organization schematic on page 53.

The office's most recent move was the award of Lot II LRIP contracts to the ITT/Westinghouse team responsible for ASPJ development. The July 12 award was for 36 systems, bringing the total number of production units under contract to 136. Deliveries of these systems will begin in December of this year and are expected to continue through April 1994.

Per the DAB's instructions, PMA-272 is preparing RFPs covering several production options "for variable quantities up to the total remaining inventory," in the words of a written statement from the program office in response to JED queries. The DAB further directed PMA-272 "to use the above-mentioned proposals to make a down-select decision within 12 months," according to the statement. The RFPs are due to be released during the first quarter of calendar 1992.

The DAB decision was based in large part on the successful completion of developmental testing last May. A total of 43 flight tests were completed during this pphase, during which the system met all the measures of effectiveness established by the DAB in November 1990, according to the PMA-272 statement. Operational testing began shortly thereafter. Both lab and flight tests will be conducted during this pphase, which is scheduled to last into the first quarter of next fiscal year.

The ASPJ is being considered for sale to several friendly nations. South Korea, Egypt and Finland have been mentioned as possible buyers, with the Koreans looking at the system for their new F-16s. PMA-272 declined to comment on what version of the ASPJ might be released to foreign countries.



As previously reported, the last EA-6B has rolled off the Grumman assembly line. However, plans are in place to upgrade the existing inventory to enable the old birds to keep ppace with new threats (see "Final EA-6B Delivered But Upgrades Continue," JED, August 1991, p. 25).

The EA-6B has long been the subject of upgrades, evolving from the Standard model through EXCAP, ICAP, ICAP II and Block-86 ICAP II versions. The next generation of enhancements has been labeled Advanced Capability, or ADVCAPP. The two primary thrusts of this program are the development of a new receiver processor group (RPG) and the addition of the ALQ-149 Tactical [C.sup.3CM] System. These additions are expected to enable the EA-6B to handle pulse densities and complexities beyond the scope of the current ALQ-99 configuration now aboard the aircraft.

Litton Amecom has been working on the RPG since 1983; the full-scale development contract for this effort is worth approximately $160 million. The RPG is designed to significantly upgrade the EA-6B's passive detection capabilities, providing an order-of-magnitude improvement in the accuracy with which the angle of arrival of incoming missiles is determined.

The ALQ-149 system from Lockheed Sanders will jam communications as well as radars in bands outside the EA-6B's current capabilities. The initial concept called for the ALQ-149 to be a discrete, dedicated, pod-mounted system. However, the system will now be installed within a modified ALQ-99 pod, creating the communications/radar jamming hybrid.

Several subcontractors are contributing to this effort. Teledyne CME is developing modular transmitters that can be installed or removed in the field, depending upon mission requirements. AIL Systems is working on an improved exciter to the ALQ-99 portion of the system under a concept definition award worth approximately $500,000. This effort will involve replacing the current voltage-controlled oscillators with synthesizers, enhancing the exciter's jamming techniques and expanding frequency coverage. Control Data has developed a new VPM card which could perform three functions currently handled by a trio of cards in the ALQ-149's AYK-14 processor. A decision on including this card has not yet been made.

The next major milestone for the ADVCAP effort comes this November, when a technical and operational assessment is scheduled to begin. A Milestone IIA LRIP decision is slated for June of next year, with the first three aircraft being outfitted in FY 1993.

Separately from this effort, the ALQ-99 will receive further attention in the form of new Band 9/10 transmitters, now being jointly procured by the Air Force and Navy. The Air Force, through the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Warner Robins, GA, is running the program, although the Navy is expected to procure the lion's share of the total units. The program is currently in source selection, with a decision expected this fall.

But enhancements to the Prowler are not limited to its EW gear. Two programs will address the aircraft itself. The first of these is the Vehicle Enhancement Program (VEP), which includes several structural changes to the aircraft. Improvements cover Block-89 fire detection/protection/extinguishing systems; activation of two outboard wing pylon stations (thus bringing the total to seven); changes to the flaps and slats to improve cruise performance and reduce approach speeds; addition of a glove strake extending from the leading edge wing root to the pilot's boarding ladder and a small vertical fin extension on top of the tail fin pod; and activation of an aileron mode to the wingtip speed brake system for use in high-angle-of-attack flight. A new Standard Automatic Flight Control System and upgraded engines also will be added.

Grumman has been working on this program, which is designed to improve the aircraft's manueverability and increase safety margins in demanding flight situations, under a contract granted in 1989. Flight testing of the VEP enhancements is scheduled to take place early in FY 1992.

The second effort covers the aircraft's avionics. The Avionics Improvement Program (AIP) includes the incorporation of the ADVCAP and VEP enhancements with additional Block-91 upgrades to improve crew interaction with the RPG/ALQ-149 combination and to achieve commonality with other Navy aircraft.

New systems and capabilities will include the Standard Attitude Heading Reference System, GPS capabilities, ASN-139 inertial system, front-cockpit ECMO Digital Display Indicator, standard 5-in. Multi-Display Indicator/Multi-Display Repeater Indicator for all four crewmembers and a head-up display for the pilot. The central computer will be changed from a single Control Data XN-4 to dual XN-8s; a disk-based recorder reproducer from Raymond Engineering will replace the current tape-based system. The Prowler also will receive a Norden APS-130 radar set modified to conform to the aircraft's demanding space requirements.

Initial flight testing of the AIP package is scheduled to begin in FY 1993, with developmental and operational testing following late in FY 1994 or early in FY 1995. LRIP might start as early as the latter stages of FY 1993, with full-rate production commencing in FY 1995.

As ambitious as these plans are, further improvements are also being envisioned, funding permitting. Block-91 improvements could include upgrades to the RPG/ALQ-149 to meet evolving threats and the addition or modification of subsystems to enhance commonality with other aircraft.


As can be readily seen, each of the three centers of EW development within NAVAIR are pursuing ambitious agendas. Yet the present realities of decreasing budgets and a lessening of political tensions worldwide will make future agendas difficult to assemble and follow. Funding shortfalls have already altered program timetables in each office, and will probably do so again in the future.

For example, REWSON faces increased responsibilities with the addition of FEWSG, yet must exercise these responsibilities in an environment in which military rosters are being reduced. (Indeed, consolidation is one reason FEWSG is being merged with REWSON in the first place.) As the funding levels for the next fiscal year are sorted out, programs that have survived previous cuts (like the ASR) may face them again, while efforts previously problem-free may suddenly find themselves with their backs against the financial wall.

Similarly, PMA-272, mindful of the troubled past of the ASPJ, can expect continued congressional scrutiny as testing continues and next year's release of RFPs approaches. Which options will the Navy have the money to pursue -- and what happens as pressure builds for a down-select decision? The role of the Air Force, which has been ordered by Congress to investigate the possibility of rejoining the once-joint program, is also a wild card whose value remains unknown.

Finally, the EA-6B program office cannot be happy with the closing of Grumman's Prowler production lines. While the company is pursuing overseas sales that potentially could restart production, the Navy must now keep in mind that it may have seen the last new Prowler Grumman will ever produce. How will this affect Grumman's ability to meet the present upgrade plans and to react to future needs?

Like a map of Washington, DC, the route toward the future for Navy EW is filled with twists and turns that will either bring the service where it wants to go or leave it driving in ever more intricate -- but fruitless -- detours. As usual, the fate of naval programs will rest with the skill of their drivers.
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Title Annotation:electronic warfare
Author:Hardy, Stephen M.
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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