NAWCWD Delivers Additional Electronic Warfare Capability to Marines

 In-house government work performed at NAWCWD improved an electronic warfare pod that provides the Marine Corps uninterrupted control within the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as the ability to disrupt enemy threats and command-and-control whenever and wherever a combat commander chooses, all at a reduced cost and schedule.

The idea of getting these alternative capabilities began when the Marines announced the sundown of their airborne Electronic Warfare (EW) system, the EA-6B Prowler. The NAWCWD team leveraged the lessons learned from its earlier development of the AN/ALQ-128 Intrepid Tiger System which proved that a non-dynamic, non-reprogrammable system was inadequate to address future EW needs.

In late 2008, Marine Corps Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia drafted an operational requirements letter supporting the Marine Air Ground Task Force Electronic Warfare 2020 vision. The requirements were for a "distributed, networked approach to Electronic Warfare designed to meet warfighter demand and deliver Electronic Attack."

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During the next three years, the NAWCWD Joint Electronic Attack and Compatibility Office (JEACO) team, in conjunction with the NAWCWD Airborne Electronic Attack Integrated Product Team, and the Airborne Electronic Attack Systems and EA-6B Program Office (PMA-234) at Naval Air Systems Command designed, developed, integrated and performed developmental tests on the AN/ALQ-231 Intrepid Tiger II pod to meet that requirement. The threshold integration platform was the AV-8B Harrier; design constraints were imposed to limit platform integration with no modifications to aircraft hardware or software.  This facilitated an earlier deployment of capabilities by reducing full integration on the platform and reducing the schedule and cost to deploy.

Between 2011 and 2012, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9 at NAWCWD China Lake and the Jammer Techniques Optimization group from Point Mugu conducted a Quick Reaction Assessment of the Intrepid Tiger II system. Upon evaluation of the results, HQMC made the decision to deploy it under an Early Operational Capability to Afghanistan in May 2012.

This was the first system deployed in support of the MAGTF EW 2020 vision. In November 2013, an upgraded version of Intrepid Tiger II system, Block 1, was deployed with Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) with AV-8Bs and in 2014 on land with USMC F/A-18s supporting multiple combatant commands. With the addition of the Intrepid Tiger II pod, MEU commanders and the USMC fixed wing platforms now possess an organic electronic warfare capability.

"The Marines needed to secure Electronic Warfare as an organic capability for the MEU," said John Johnson, operational adviser to NAWCWD JEACO. "That is why the AV-8B was the first platform to receive the Intrepid Tiger II capability."

According to Johnson, who is also a retired Marine chief warrant officer from the signals intelligence and electronic warfare field, the MEU is the lowest level of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force.

Using the Harrier with Intrepid Tiger II, the Marines continued close air support using a combination of offensive and defensive anti-air warfare, deep air support, conventional and specific weapons. In addition, they relied on combat air patrol, armed escort missions, and offensive missions against enemy ground-to-air defenses.

Intrepid Tiger II was the first deployed weapon system that was integrated with the EW Services Architecture (EWSA). The EWSA is a services-oriented architecture that enables the system to be dynamically controlled and re-tasked real time through a secure, tactical radio network.  It provides the architecture framework and control interface enabling a common command and control and planning capability.

NAWCWD's work with Intrepid Tiger II is in alignment with the command's top three objectives. The system delivers integrated and interoperable warfighting capabilities, improves affordability across the full life cycle (by using open architectures), and with the government as the lead systems integrator, invests in the workforce.

The open architecture design and rapid reprogrammability gives Intrepid Tiger II the flexibility to meet current and future threats. The architecture includes a control interface unit that serves as the common interface to the external platforms enabling quicker installation using existing vehicle configurations and reducing funding and schedule requirements.

Intrepid Tiger II will be upgraded to include a spectrum diverse capability. It was developed under a rapid deployment capability, enabling a tailored approach to getting it to the warfighter faster and cheaper.

"The 15- to 18-month development and integration timeline is possible due to the open architecture design enabling hardware and software re-use," stated Lynne Clarke, the Intrepid Tiger II project lead at NAWCWD.  "It also facilitates increased functionality with each variant thereby providing more capabilities within the original cost estimates.  It doesn't matter if the system is for a manned or unmanned aircraft or a ground vehicle. The use of an open architecture enables re-use and provides a shortened developmental timeline and reduced costs.

"Designing Intrepid Tiger II with interoperability in mind is important to developing a system of systems," Clarke continued. "It provides a phased approach to integrating with both legacy and new systems on a variety of platforms and facilitates an integration of warfighter capabilities."

Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Dec 11, 2014