Northrop Grumman Completes First Fuselage Section for U.S. Navy's Next-Generation Electronic Attack Aircraft
The EA-18G is expected to begin replacing the Navy's venerable EA-6B Prowler aircraft by the end of the decade. Northrop Grumman is principal subcontractor to The Boeing Company for the EA-18G, which is a variant of the combat-proven F/A-18 Super Hornet that Boeing and Northrop Grumman also produce for the Navy as the service's frontline carrier-based strike fighter.
Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector produces and integrates the center/aft fuselage and all associated subsystems for the F/A-18 and EA-18G at its manufacturing facility here. Each fuselage "shipset" is delivered to Boeing's production facility in St. Louis, Mo. Northrop Grumman is also the airborne electronic-attack system integrator for the EA-18G and performs this work in Bethpage, N.Y., under a separate contract with Boeing.
"Our significant role on the EA-18G highlights Northrop Grumman's systems integration expertise," said Scott J. Seymour, corporate vice president and Integrated Systems sector president. "We are integrating an important electronic-attack capability on a combat-proven platform that will operate seamlessly in the Navy's Force Net architecture and help keep Navy aviators out of harm's way."
Like the Prowler it will replace, the EA-18G will perform surveillance and electronic jamming of enemy threat radars and communications nets. Its electronic-attack suite is based on the advanced Increased Capability (ICAP) III system developed by Northrop Grumman for the Prowler. The EA-18G's effectiveness will be enhanced by the advanced strike-fighter capabilities of the F/A-18.
"The delivery of this center-aft fuselage brings us one step closer to the advanced technology our Navy customer wants," said Chris Chadwick, vice president of F/A-18 programs for Boeing. "The EA-18G will provide the fleet with every benefit the Super Hornet brings to the warfighter today in terms of effectiveness and reliability, and will support our ground troops with a level of flexibility in airborne electronic attack that they have never experienced."
ICAP III uses a technology called selective-reactive jamming to make it more effective than jammers currently in service. Current Prowlers jam radars by transmitting electronic signals over broad frequency bands to "blind" adversary radars operating within each band. By contrast, the EA-18G will use sophisticated receivers and software to rapidly locate enemy radars and focus its jamming energy on the threat. This advanced capability is particularly effective against frequency-agile radar threats.
The ICAP III system also features a geolocation targeting capability that allows it to find and target radars and other electronic emitters.
This EA-18G will be the first of two test aircraft produced under a five-year Navy system development and demonstration contract that covers all laboratory, ground and flight-testing. The EA-18G is expected to enter initial operational capability in 2009 and gradually replace the Prowler. The Navy's current plan is to buy 90 EA-18Gs. The Northrop Grumman-built Prowler is expected to remain in service until 2012.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use on networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.