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Northrop, BAE Tapped to Develop AC/MC-130J Countermeasures

Northrop Grumman Corp. and BAE Systems Plc have each received U.S. military contracts to develop new countermeasures for AC/MC-130J aircraft, the companies announced Monday.

Northrop received a nearly $33 million contract and BAE got a more than $20 million award to develop advanced radio frequency countermeasures (RFCM) for the AC-130J and MC-130J aircraft, both of which are derived from the C-130 cargo plane made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The work could eventually be worth almost $400 million. The Pentagon plans to select one of the two companies for a production contract as early as September, according to a previous notice about the program.

The Air Force as of Sept. 30, 2014 had 19 MC-130J Commando II tankers, which fly clandestine missions to refuel special operations forces' aircraft, transport troops or airdrop leaflets. New AC-130J gunships based on the MC-130J are in development. The service has some 100 C-130J across the active, Guard and Reserve components.

BAE said its technology offers "fully integrated, precision geo-location, and radio frequency countermeasure capabilities" to support such missions as the armed over-watch and refueling of helicopters in denied territories, and for close air support and interdiction in the most sensitive and hostile of territories, according to a press release.

"This award is a significant milestone as it not only builds on our strong electronic warfare legacy, but also extends our proven electronic warfare capability to a large platform aircraft," Brian Walters, vice president and general manager of Electronic Combat Solutions at BAE Systems, said in the release. "Our all-digital RFCM system will ensure the mission-critical C-130J fleet remains capable and protected in the harshest environments."

Northrop said its radio frequency countermeasure systems will detect, identify, locate, deny, degrade, disrupt and defeat threats to the aircraft operated by Air Force Special Operations Command, or AFSOC.

"Our solution is designed to detect and defeat not only current radio frequency threats, but also to have the flexibility to protect our warfighters as the threat evolves," Jeff Palombo, Northrop Grumman division vice president and general manager, said in a statement.

"Our solution is built upon our high confidence aircraft protection systems of today, coupled with an open architecture approach that enables our offering to grow to a multi-spectral, multi-function capability for the future," he added. "This approach is a subtle, yet important characteristic of our offering that protects our customer's investment in their initial RFCM system procurement while positioning AFSOC AC/MC-130 gunships for the complex battlespace of the immediate future."

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