When Hornets Growl

The new, supersonic face of e-warfare

No soft underbelly here: The EA-18G Growler hauls missiles, fuel tanks, and electronic warfare pods. (Ted Carlson/Fotodynamics)
Air & Space Magazine

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Militaries sometimes tend to fight the last war, because it is the war they know. E-warfare is the realm in which they can least afford to do that. Yet, in times of relative peace, jamming advocates are forced to speak up to keep the funding flowing for research and development.

“Electronic warfare is something that everybody wants when you’re in combat, but nobody is willing to pay for in peacetime,” says Jack Dailey. “It’s extremely difficult to justify because it has to be based upon handling a threat that may not have been developed yet.”

The Navy has been sharing a few details about its Next Generation Jammer program, which will replace the ALQ-99 on the Growler at first, and then on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Central to the jammer will be developments in AESA radars that promise much wider frequency coverage, better identification of sophisticated waveforms, and more seamless integration between the AESA and jammer.

And while it’s difficult to anticipate if the nemesis will be a cell phone or an advanced missile radar, one thing is for certain: the Navy will need the very best electronic countermeasures available to watch, listen, and act.

When D.C. Agle isn’t writing, he’s doing his best to refrain from growling as he changes his five-monthold twins’ diapers for the umpteenth time.


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