$279.4 Million Contract to Develop Next-Generation Military Jamming Systems On Hold
Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems has been ordered to stop work on a next-generation electronic jamming system contract the company won after BAE Systems formally protested the awarding of the contract.
Raytheon chief executive William Swanson, who disclosed the stop-work order last week, reportedly told analysts his company was “very comfortable” about its prospects for keeping the contract.
“This is not a competition that happened overnight,” he said. “We feel very comfortable in their [the U.S. Navy’s] selection.”
Raytheon received the $279.4 million U.S. Navy contract July 8 to conduct the technology development phase of the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) program, beating out incumbent Northrop Grumman Corp., Boeing and BAE Systems in a victory analysts said could eventually lead to billions of dollars in profit.
“This is a huge win for Raytheon and such a big blow to the losers that it may trigger consolidation in the defense electronics sector,” Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Virginia-based Lexington Institute, told Reuters following the awarding of the contract. “This program is crucial to combating efforts by China and other countries to keep U.S. forces out of their region.”
Designed to degrade or prevent an enemy’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum, the NGJ program is a Navy initiative to develop an airborne electronic warfare system as a replacement for the AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming system found on EA-18G Growler military aircraft.
First deployed in the early 1970s during the Vietnam War, the ALQ-99 systems are gradually being overpowered by more sophisticated, modern enemy technology—such as radios and radar systems capable of quickly changing operating frequencies—that they were not originally designed to defeat. In addition, Navy officials say, the aging systems no longer have the capacity to simultaneously handle all potential electronic threats to U.S. forces in a given conflict, and their emissions sometimes interfere with the electronic operations of friendly forces. The new NGJ is expected to be ready for use by 2020 and will feature significantly improved jamming capabilities—including design considerations that will reduce “friendly jamming fratricide”—in a more manageable package.
Once the contract dispute is settled, a 22-month technical development phase will be the next step in transitioning mature components into testable systems, as well as developing a preliminary design for the new jamming pods that will be used on the EA-18G Growler, Naval Air Systems Command said. A 4½-year manufacturing phase will follow.