The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded the third production order to Northrop Grumman for the Electronic Attack Pod Upgrade Program (EAPUP).

The $44m order is part of an existing contract and will significantly increase the number of EAPUP systems for the USAF.

In April 2012, Northrop Grumman secured a $52.8m, 27-month engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) contract to upgrade the USAF’s electronic attack (EA) pods.

The programme included EMD, a low-rate initial production phase (LRIP) and five production options.

Northrop Grumman’s upgraded, digital AN/ALQ-131 pod is designed to operate in support of A-10, C-130, F-15 and F-16 aircraft and aircrews.

The EAPUP solution will replace the service’s current EA pods.

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Northrop Grumman global logistics and modernisation general manager Michelle Scarpella said: “The new technology in EAPUP will protect USAF pilots and coalition partner aircraft from modern and future threats.”

Prior to the order, a series of tests were conducted to validate the system’s capabilities and readiness for operations.

The tests were performed in modern combat scenarios and pitted the AN/ALQ-131 pod against multiple, simultaneous threats.

The pod identified, located and countered sophisticated threats during the tests.

Northrop Grumman land and avionics C4ISR vice-president Brent Toland said: “The advanced electronic warfare capability integrated in EAPUP is mature, scalable and in production today.

“Available globally, it is ready to give aircrews the protection they need in dense electromagnetic spectrum environments.”

The programme aims to deliver fifth-generation capability to the USAF’s fourth-generation aircraft.

The EAPUP features Northrop Grumman’s advanced electronic warfare technology.