This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.
Boeing and several system suppliers have been awarded U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory contracts to mature technology for an airborne electronic attack (AEA) pod that could be flight tested on the B-52 in fiscal 2012, giving the venerable bomber another shot at one day providing stand-off jamming for early-warning radars.
The five-year AEA Tech Mat effort is a prelude to the planned Core Component Jammer (CCJ) program, a lower-cost replacement for the B-52 Stand-Off Jammer System (SOJS) that was cancelled in 2006 when estimated costs soared above $7 billion.
Boeing has been awarded a three-year, $15 million contract to study the integration of the jammer system on the B-52 and provide support to subsystem suppliers such as EDO and ITT, which have contracts to mature technology for the receiver, exciter and phased-array jammers.
Under a planned two-year extension to the program, not yet funded but expected to cost $300-350 million, two jammer pods would be built and flight-tested on a B-52H in 2012, says Boeing program manager Jeff Weis. This would set the stage for system development and demonstration of the CCJ for service entry around 2018.
To reduce cost, Weis says, the pods are planned to have the same size, weight and center of gravity as underwing fuel tanks carried by the earlier B-52D. The pods would house high-power phased arrays providing jamming in two low bands and one mid band, principally to counter early-warning radars.
To power the pods, Boeing plans to add generators to the B-52, which presently has them on only four of its eight engines. There would be an electronic-attack processor and a dedicated display at the existing electronic-warfare officer's station.
Boeing is teamed with Northrop Grumman, its partner on the U.S. Navy's electronic-attack EA-18G Growler. "We will leverage off the EA-18's controls and displays and Northrop Grumman's electronic attack expertise to keep it affordable," Weis says.