The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has awarded a contract to BAE Systems to support the first phase of a multi-phase programme aimed at improving the capability of the US Air Force’s (USAF) fleet of C-130J aircraft.

Under the terms of the contract which is valued at $20m, the company will develop a new electronic warfare system for the fleet and provide product development and platform integration work over a period of 12 months.

The contract is expected to exceed $400m during the life-cycle of the programme.

Additionally, the company will equip the fleet with the radio frequency countermeasure (RFCM) system that will offer integrated, precision geo-location, and radio frequency countermeasure capabilities.

The upgrade is expected to enhance aircraft system survivability and its capability to detect, identify, locate, deny, degrade, disrupt, and defeat both surface and airborne threats during operations.

"Our all-digital RFCM system will ensure the mission-critical C-130J fleet remains capable and protected in the harshest environments."

BAE Systems Electronic Combat Solutions vice-president and general manager Brian Walters said: "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.

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"Our all-digital RFCM system will ensure the mission-critical C-130J fleet remains capable and protected in the harshest environments."

The C-130J is equipped with four Allison AE2100D3 turboprop engines, each rated at 4,591 shaft horsepower (3,425kW).

The engines are equipped with full-authority digital electronic control (FADEC) by Lucas Aerospace. An automatic thrust control system (ATCS) optimises the balance of power on the engines, allowing lower values of minimum control speeds and superior short-airfield performance.

Image: The C-130J aircraft. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force.