Business & Defence

F-16 is Set To Receive the Next Generation of Electronic Warfare Suites

The US Air Force made another step toward modernising the F-16 fleet’s electronic warfare (EW) capabilities.

The Fighters and Advanced Aircraft Directorate issued an Unpriced Change Order (UCO) modification to Northrop Grumman for the F-16 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite on March 10, ahead of a multi-million dollar contract modification award likely later this year (IVEWS).

The UCO comes after the company was awarded a $40 million Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) modification award in June 2021 to create an IVEWS environmentally and flight safety certified prototype. Northrop Grumman will complete IVEWS – also known as AN/ALQ-257 – development and install the system on numerous F-16s for flight testing during the next 18 months.

In early 2023, the IVEWS Developmental Test/Operational Test (DT/OT) and Operational Assessment (OA) will get more development, integration, hardware qualification testing, and asset procurement from Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD).

“This contract and overall programme effort are critical to increasing the security of our F-16 operators as they execute their missions in contested situations,” said Maj. Charles Prichard, the directorate’s F-16 System Program Office’s Chief of Electronic Warfare Integration.

“An advanced electronic warfare (EW) system is required for the F-16 Viper to meet assigned mission sets in accordance with the CSAF’s Fighter Roadmap and to operate in specified situations.” IVEWS is in line with the HAF/EW ACC’s strategy and has lately been identified as an option for improving the F-16’s survivability and lethality against existing and emerging threats.”

Internal to the F-16, IVEWS is a next-generation EW system that is interoperable with the onboard APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. It is built to meet the needs of the Open Missions System and is built for long-term expansion to enable future upgrades like the Fiber Optic Tow Decoy, Adaptive/Cognitive Processing, and Open System Architecture compliance.

The implementation of the Middle Tier of Acquisition (MTA) method, which exploited competition amongst military businesses to produce considerable cost and schedule reductions without losing capabilities, has been a vital aspect of the initiative. The Air Force was able to pick IVEWS as the advanced fleet EW system for the F-16 as a result of this.

“The MTA is a method that eliminates all of the red tape and allows you to go faster and cheaper without sacrificing capability,” Prichard added. “It fosters healthy competition because it generates incentives and allows industry to try to solve an issue for you and get enhanced capabilities to the warfighter as rapidly as feasible.”

“IVEWS has had a wonderful year, progressing from a lab prototype to a flight demonstration,” says the company “F-16 System Program Manager Col. Tim Bailey said. “It has become the F-16 advanced fleet answer and a’must have,’ top priority programme for Air Combat Command.

“Throughout the Viper’s extended service life, IVEWS will keep it relevant and lethal.” We are grateful for our unique and collaborative cooperation with Northrop Grumman and other stakeholders, who continue to help our warfighters overcome the most difficult problems they encounter.”

IVEWS is planned to go into production and fielding in 2024.

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