While the Navy is replacing its aging EA-6B Prowlers electronic warfare (EW) jets with brand new EA-18G Growlers the Marine Corps is hoping to outfit its F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harriers with new electronic jammers.
The Intrepid Tiger II is the Corps' homegrown jammer meant to disrupt IED radio detonators and intercept enemy communications. Best of all, it can be controlled by pilots or ground troops. Next month, the Marines will test out the system on a Harrier and hope to have it in Afghanistan by November, according to Marine Corps Times.
No, the Intrepid Tiget II probably won't make Harriers and Hornets compete with Growlers and Prowlers in terms of high-end EW ability. However, the pod might be a great solution to a relatively low-end threat that's constantly evolving. And who knows, it may spur further innovation that could be applied in high-end EW.
The Marines hope to someday put the jammer -- which is about the size of an AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) -- on UH-1 and AH-1 helos and are even testing a smaller version of the device on the RQ-7 Shadow UAV. Intrepid Tiger II is based on the Corps' Intrepid Tiger I "communications pod" that was fielded around 2007 after less than a year of testing. (Note, that pod, officially called the AN⁄ALQ-228 (V) 1, might already give Harriers and Hornets some EW ability.)
The coolest thing about the Intrepid Tiger II is that it may represent a shift toward quickly developed technologies that can be easily upgraded and don't require decades of development and billions of dollars to field.
From Marine Corps Times:
The Corps wants a system in which several inexpensive network pods covering different frequencies assume the electronic attack role.
Intrepid Tiger II has a open architecture, is fully reprogrammable and can operate over a far greater frequency range, Schuette said.
The pod also can be networked to form a distributed electronic attack “systems of systems,” meaning it can work in tandem with other pods to cover different frequencies and form a cohesive means to tackle multiple threats.
It can be controlled by a pilot or by Marine ground forces using laptop computers, said Lt. Col. Robert Kudelko, a Marine airborne EW requirements officer. Eventually, Marine officials said they hope to control the pod from a hand-held device.
In the future, upgrades and modifications should be possible without having to retest everything from scratch. If the Corps gets its way, the pod could be updated in less than two years. That’s important because modern enemies adapt quickly, Schuette said.
An individual pod costs less than $600,000, he said, and the total program cost is less than $20 million.