WASHINGTON — A new batch of Northrop Grumman-made electronic warfare upgrades for the F-16 fighter has passed simulation testing in a U.S. Air Force emulator, the company said Tuesday.
The firm said the upgrades — dubbed AN/ALQ-257 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite, or IVEWS — performed better than the benchmarks that were set in the simulation testing.
Northrop said the new electronic warfare system will allow the F-16 to counter threats using modern radio frequencies, and find and defeat newer, more advanced sensors and weapons than the fighter’s older systems can. The company said the IVEWS has more efficient broadband power amplifiers and adaptive countermeasure modulations, and will allow the aircraft to respond more quickly while covering extended frequencies and detecting threats in all directions. IVEWS uses a modular open-systems design, the company added.
“As advanced radio frequency threats continue to proliferate, the protection afforded by IVEWS is essential,” James Conroy, Northrop’s vice president for navigation, targeting and survivability, said in a statement. “This successful evaluation under very challenging conditions is an important step on the path to fielding the suite.”
The Air Force chose Northrop Grumman, among others, to start prototyping a design for the F-16′s new electronic warfare system in 2019.
In January 2021, the Air Force tapped Northrop to finish the project as the sole contractor. Northrop said at the time its new system would be compatible with the jet’s AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, which the company also makes.
Northrop received another contract from the Air Force in May 2022 to get IVEWS ready for developmental testing and full hardware qualification.
Defense News has asked the company how much the Air Force is paying it to create IVEWS.
Northrop said the testing process “injected” simulated air defense radar pulses into the electronic warfare system to ensure it could recognize and counter advanced threats.
The testing, which is now complete, took place in the Air Force’s Laboratory Intelligence Validated Emulator, Northrop said, which allows for the testing of electronic warfare technology in realistic environments. This was the first time IVEWS’ ultra-wideband architecture was tested in that emulator, the firm added.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.