The company sent its quirky test aircraft into the exercise to validate the interoperability of its new electronic warfare system, with the AESA SABR radar, which will equip the F-16 Block 70/72.

Through a press release, Northrop Grumman reported that it was the first time that the Next Generation Electronic Warfare (NGEW) system joined the AN / APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), while operating on the same aircraft.

The NGEW and SABR demonstrated their full interoperability in a realistic and contested environment of the electromagnetic spectrum, during exercise Northern Lightning.

“When an EW system and a radar are able to fully work together, as demonstrated with NGEW and SABR, pilots can take advantage of the capability without compromise,” said James Conroy, vice president of navigation, marksmanship and survivability at Northrop Grumman. “With the increasingly contested radio frequency (RF) spectrum, this critical set of capabilities will support the F-16 for many years to come.”

Flying on the company’s test aircraft, NGEW and SABR demonstrated full pulse-to-pulse and multifunction interoperability in a contested operating environment. With the SABR successfully engaging multiple air and ground targets, while the NGEW detected and identified a number of modern threats, employing advanced jamming techniques capable of defeating those threats when necessary.

In the exercise, the two systems faced a high-density radio frequency environment generated by joint threat emitters from the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center. These threat emitters enabled Northern Lightning participants to fly missions in conditions representative of complex electromagnetic spectrum environments, such as those expected to offer technologically advanced adversaries.

To carry out this mission, Northrop Grumman used its two CRJ-700 test aircraft (registration N804X and N805X). Acquired about a decade ago and modified as a flying laboratory, these aircraft often participate in large-scale combat exercises to test new systems and equipment, which will later be installed on combat aircraft.

test aircraft

These types of highly realistic drills are critical to eliminating errors as well as polishing concepts of operation and employment, which is just as important as the new equipment itself.

Instantaneous high bandwidth, open architecture NGEW is designed to defeat all kinds of modern threats across the electromagnetic spectrum. It will form an essential part of the self-defense system of the future F-16V (modernized) and block 70/72 (new) from 2022.

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