AUGUSTA, Ga. — The U.S. Army subjected an in-the-works aerial jammer to testing and soldier scrutiny, with initial feedback proving positive, according to one acquisition official.
The Multi-Function Electronic Warfare-Air Large, or MFEW-AL, is part of the Army’s reinvestment in sophisticated electronic warfare technologies after years of neglect. Lockheed Martin is spearheading development of the self-contained pod, which was initially intended for mounting aboard an MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone, made by General Atomics, but is now being considered for wider use.
Brig. Gen. Ed Barker, the program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors, or PEO IEW&S, on Aug. 15 told C4ISRNET a developmental test was conducted at the China Lake weapons range in California and that the service is “getting MFEW in the hands” of troops.
“We’ve had soldiers both at China Lake and then up at 10th Mountain Division,” Barker said in an interview on the sidelines of the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference in Georgia. “The software and hardware is stable. I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
Electronic warfare is a high-stakes game of cat and mouse tethered to the electromagnetic spectrum. Militaries rely upon the spectrum — and its manipulation — for weapons guidance, navigation and communication, among other vital tasks.
The Army and other services are reprioritizing electronic warfare as the Pentagon prepares for potential conflict with Russia or China. The spectrum would be hotly contested in a fight with either. The targeting of military chatter, networks and drones in Eastern Europe is adding to the urgency.
Barker and others are awaiting formal feedback from the Army Test and Evaluation Command. The info will help “inform the next phase, when it comes to a procurement decision for MFEW,” he said.
Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo last year expressed excitement about MFEW-AL after viewing a prototype in the field.
“What concerned me, always, is that we’ve got to keep pace with the threat over time,” Camarillo told reporters at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, at the time. “I’m really impressed with the MFEW program that the Army has, its different configurations and where it’s going.”
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.