WASHINGTON — The Navy recently announced a $496 million contract with L3Harris for a portion of the Navy’s premier aerial-jamming platform.

The engineering and manufacturing development contract is for the Next Generation Jammer Low Band.

The Next Generation Jammer, which will be mounted aboard EA-18G Growlers, is the Navy’s and, by extension, the joint force’s leading aerial electronic attack platform. It will replace the ALQ-99 jamming pod and has been broken up into three pods covering three portions of the electromagnetic spectrum: mid, low and high. The Navy awarded the mid-band pod to Raytheon in 2016. In 2018, the Navy awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman and L3 Technologies to demonstrate existing systems as a means of buying down risk on the eventual program and awardee. The timeline and funding for a high-band post is unclear at this time.

Officials have said not all three will be integrated on aircraft at once.

The Navy, in a Dec. 18 announcement, said the contract supports the final design and manufacturing of eight operational prototype pods with four test pods to work through issues such as airworthiness and integration on the Growler.

“I’m proud of the hard work and determination of the Navy and industry team,” said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. “The teams work to reduce development risk, inform technology realities, and speed capabilities to the fleet was impressive. The efforts by all those involved enabled the Navy to move forward in a rapid manner to bring this new critical capability to bear for our war fighters, saving years in operational development.”

Geurts signed a decision memorandum on Dec. 8 certifying the low band program Milestone B, which is the official start of the program.

“NGJ-LB is the next step in the evolution of Airborne Electronic Attack that is needed to meet current and emerging electronic warfare gaps,” said Rear Adm. Shane Gahagan, program executive officer, tactical aircraft programs. “The increased jamming capability that NGJ-LB brings to the war fighter is critical to sustaining the future missions of the Navy and other services.”

Congress has signaled some concern with the program and the Navy’s approach, requiring a report on the jammer in the annual defense policy bill for Fiscal 2021.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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