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Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract for the upgrade of the US Air Force’s (USAF) existing electronic attack (EA) pods to help increase its protection during combat operations.

Under the 27-month, $52.8m engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract, the company will fabricate and supply an upgraded ALQ-131 EA pod to the air force for use in development/operational testing.

The upgrade also includes the integration of a proven digital radio frequency memory, a common component for modern electronic warfare systems.

Northrop Grumman Technical Services corporate vice president and sector president Tom Vice said the company has designed an innovative solution that will provide USAF pilots with the electronic warfare protection they require while flying combat operations.

Northrop Grumman Land and Self Protection Systems Division sector vice president and general manager Jeff Palombo said the company’s digital receiver/exciter technology helps a fourth-generation aircraft survive in a fifth-generation world.

"Northrop Grumman is utilizing mature technology across a number of programs providing scalable and economical unique electronic warfare capability to gain fifth generation abilities in form/fit packages for US Air Force fixed and rotary wing aircraft," Palombo added.

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By GlobalData

The ALQ-131(V) is an electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod designed to efficiently counter known, emerging and future terminal threats in a variety of complex, dense threat environments on a pulse-by-pulse basis.

The pod features a modular hardware and software with true open system architecture and is fully capable of operating in support of the USAF’s A-10, C-130, F-15 and F-16 aircraft and aircrews.

Apart from EMD phase, the $480m EA Pod upgrade programme (PUP) also includes a low-rate initial production phase (LRIP) and five production options.

The company has delivered more than 500 digital radio frequency memories to date, which are currently fielded on F-16 Fighting Falcon and other modern fighter aircraft.