As part of an Army plan to rebuild its electronic warfare capabilities, the service plans to award a major contract later this year that would bolster EW capabilities.
The contract is to support part of the Army’s Multi-Function Electronic Warfare program, which overall will provide brigade combat team commanders organic offensive electronic attack and support capabilities, which don’t currently exist.
Specifically, the contract award will be for MFEW Air Large, which will outfit electronic warfare pods used to jam and detect signals onto large unmanned aerial systems. This could include the Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle.
Ann Minniti, the program lead for MFEW Air at Army Program Executive Office-Intelligence, Electronic Warfare & Sensors, told C4ISRNET that an Army Requirements Oversight Council Memorandum in early January 2018 codified the capabilities for part of the program.
The Army, according to fiscal 2019 budget request, plans to spend $39.8 million on MFEW Air next year with a total spend of $195.8 million for the whole MFEW program across the next five years.
Similarly, the service had planned to spend $20.3 million last year as outlined by its FY18 budget documents released in May 2017.
The Army's approach to multifunction in its electronic warfare program of record is a departure from years past.
The Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) program requires different electronic warfare solutions for platforms of different sizes. The timeline for the project is as follows;
• MFEW Air Large, outfitted for large drones, is expected to be fielded in fiscal 2022.
• MFEW Air Rotary, for Recon/Lite Attack helicopters, is expected to be fielded in fiscal 26.
• MFEW Air small, outfitted for drones weighting around 1,000 pounds, is expected to be fielded in fiscal 2031.
• MFEW Ground large, outfitted for large ground vehicles, expected to be fielded for fiscal 2025.
• MFEW Ground small, outfitted for small ground vehicles, expected to be fielded in fiscal 2027.
• MFEW Ground dismounted is expected to be fielded in fiscal 2027.
The Army believes it can accelerate the development of a key electronic warfare program, and in the process, provide a road map for how the service might improve acquisition.
Minniti said her office will pursue a rapid development effort with current funding to be used for the development and testing of MFEW Air Large systems.
The Army is gearing up to finalize requirements for the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare Ground program in November.