A fighter aircraft is much more than a collection of weapons to drop onto the enemy’s heads. There are many more technologies deployed on airplanes, all conspiring to make these machines far more capable than anything used in conflict until not long ago.
Today’s world no longer allows nations to attack each other with little warning, as it happened until as recently as the Second World War. That’s because most nations on this planet have solid air defense and communications systems that could easily interfere with a successful military operation.
But, as with any other tech out there, defense and comm systems can be disabled, provided one has the right tools to do it. And for the U.S. Navy, one such tool is the Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB).
Described as “an external jamming pod that will address advanced and emerging threats using the latest digital, software-based and Active Electronically Scanned Array technologies,” NGJ-MB just got the green light from the military branches top brass to enter the Production and Deployment phase and start Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP).
The system, being developed by Raytheon and in testing since 2019, will be included in a larger one that will replace the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System currently deployed on the EA-18G Growler. It should make the planes capable of performing jamming that would effectively “disrupt, deny and degrade enemy air defense and ground communication systems.”
The NGJ-MB is not the only upgrade planned for this particular plane. Boeing was tapped earlier this year to begin a five-year-long modernization process for the fighter that would see it getting better at handling things in the more complex electromagnetic environments of the modern world.
The Growler, a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, is used by the Navy to jam radar and communications of the enemy forces. To date, around 150 of them have been launched into service.