A jamming system that will provide F-16 fighter jets increased capability against modern threats recently completed U.S. Air Force Laboratory Intelligence Validated Emulator (LIVE) testing, marking the first time it underwent ultra-wideband testing, the manufacturer announced Tuesday.
The AN/ALQ-257 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite (IVEWS), made by Northrop Grumman, provides digital radar warning receiver performance and active jamming capability in an internal suite to keep the F-16 operationally viable beyond 2046, according to fiscal 2024 Air Force budget documents. The service noted the technology is interoperable with the on-board APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.
The Air Force continues to fly airframes that are decades old, and modern threats are advancing beyond what these older systems are capable of countering. As a result, the service has sought to modernize its sensing and digital technology to keep these platforms relevant into the future.
“As advanced radio frequency threats continue to proliferate, the protection afforded by IVEWS is essential,” James Conroy, vice president of the navigation, targeting and survivability business at Northrop Grumman, said in a statement.
The system provides extended frequency coverage, full spatial coverage and more rapid responses with highly efficient broadband power amplifiers and countermeasures, Northrop said in a release. It is designed to detect, identify, locate and defeat next-generation sensors and weapons.
During the recent test, simulated air defense radar pulses were injected into IVEWS to validate that it was capable of recognizing and countering advanced threats, the company said.
IVEWS was initially awarded in 2019 to Northrop through a Middle Tier Acquisition prototyping Other Transaction agreement, according to Air Force budget documents. Last year, the Air Force awarded Northrop an extension beyond the OTA through September 2023 to provide continued rapid prototyping and procurement of engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) hardware used in flight test aircraft.
The system has already flown on the company’s test bed aircraft and “we anticipate installation and flight testing to begin [on the F-16] in the third quarter of this year,” Conroy said in a statement to DefenseScoop.
The Air Force said production and fielding of IVEWS is expected to begin in 2024.
Updated on April 11, 2023, at 4:00 PM: This has story has been updated to include comment from Northrop Grumman about flight testing of the IVEWS.