The Navy has awarded Raytheon Technologies a $650 million low-rate initial production contract for its next-generation airborne electronic attack jamming system, which will replace the legacy ALQ-99 jamming pod carried by the service's fleet of EA-18G Growlers.
The Lot III LRIP contract funds the production and delivery of 15 Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) ship sets -- with two pods per ship set -- including 11 sets for the Navy and four for the Australian government, according to a Thursday Navy release.
Work is expected to conclude in April 2024, the announcement states.
The Navy’s fiscal year 2024 budget request contains $40.5 million for NGJ-MB research and development and forecasts funding to climb to more than $87 million in FY-25 and continue through FY-28.
FY-24 R&D will focus on “delivering pod operational flight program software builds that address deficiencies identified during completion of developmental flight testing,” budget documents state.
According to the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s annual report, the program is still working to remedy reliability and performance issues that were identified prior to milestone C -- which was achieved in May 2021, enabling LRIP procurement to begin.
The NGJ-MB pods have not proven mature enough to conduct operational test flights, the report states, although it notes that some progress has been made to improve system performance through software updates. Due to these lingering issues, test flights were postponed until after the start of initial operational test and evaluation.
The program is slated to begin operational testing in May 2023, budget documents state.
Although the Navy’s budget request predicts the program will achieve initial operational capability before the end of FY-23, the DOT&E report warns that the service should prepare to extend IOT&E due to “uncertainty around the availability and reliability of operational test ready LRIP pods.”