BAE System’s delivery of electronic warfare (EW) systems, announced on 13 February 2024, is the latest development in an effort to advance the US Air Force’s (USAF) EW jamming platforms.

Its next generation Baseline 4 mission systems will deliver long-range EW attack capabilties to disrupt and suppress an adversary’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum for communications, navigation and air defence.

‘Compass Call’ is the US Defense Department’s only long-range, full-spectrum stand-off EW jamming platform.

However, it is in the process of replacing its enduring fleet of 14 EC-130H Compass Call aircraft with ten modernised EA-37Bs, the first of which BAE Systems delivered in September last year.

Interim fielding of the aircraft is expected to take place in mid-2024, following the completion of developmental and operational flight testing.

The EA-37B is based on the Gulfstream G550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning Aircraft airframe, which is a derivative of the G550 business jet.

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It is equipped with the existing Compass Call EW system installed on the ageing Lockheed Martin-built EC-130H Compass Call electronic attack aircraft.

An EC-130H Compass Call prepares to taxi 5 December 2016 at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. Credit: DVIDS.

According to Offut Air Force Base, Air Combat Command’s ‘EC-37B’ aircraft was re-designated as the ‘EA-37B’, effective from 27 October 2023.

“As the EA-37B fleet comes on line, the USAF will be better equipped to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Duane Beauliu, Compass Call technical director at BAE Systems.

The EA-37B aircraft has a length of 29 metres (m) and a wingspan of 28m. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce BR710 C4-11 engines. The aircraft’s weight and operating costs are reduced by 50% each, compared to the EC-130H Compass Call.

According to the leading intelligence consultancy, GlobalData, in its report on the ‘Global Military Fixed Wing Aircraft Market 2023-2033’, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnassance aircraft market is valued at a cumulative investment of $78.6bn, with North America taking up 22% of the market.

In North America, the ongoing procurement of EC-37B Compass Call and E-2D by the US will account for a major share of the North American market.

Additional reporting from Harry McNeil.