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Upgrades for E-2D electronic warfare systems

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Avionics experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. will upgrade electronic warfare (EW) systems aboard the U.S. Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye carrier-based airborne early warning aircraft under terms of a $64.7 million five-year contract announced Monday.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking the Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems segment in Owego, N.Y., to upgrade the advanced digital receiver and processor (ADRP) and active front end (AFE) in the E-2D's AN/ALQ-217 electronic support measures (ESM) systems. Lockheed Martin will deliver 16 ESM ADRP upgrade kits.

Electronic support measures represent one branch of EW that detects, intercepts, identifies, locates, records, and analyzes radio signals for threat recognition and EW planning. It can warn, for example, that a fire-control radar has locked on a combat vehicle, ship, or aircraft.

Electronic Support data can support signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT) and electronics intelligence (ELINT) by passive listening to electromagnetic radiations of military interest.

The Navy Northrop Grumman E-2D is a tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft designed to operate from aircraft carriers. The twin-engine turboprop aircraft has a distinctive saucer-like antenna, and provides the carrier battle group with wide-area radar surveillance for enemy monitoring and combat air traffic control.

The Lockheed Martin AN/ALQ-217 ESM system functions as the ears of the E-2D and other advanced tactical aircraft. As a passive sensor system, the AN/ALQ-217 identifies and locates sources of radio frequency (RF) emission. The system is tailorable through mission data loads, which E-2D operators can reload in flight to adapt to specific geographic regions.

The AN/ALQ-217 uses an open-systems architecture and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) processing. The system has four antennas, four active front ends, and a combined receiver and processor.

The subsystem architecture divides the RF operating range into three bands: low, mid, and high, each of which provides 360-degree acquisition coverage.

The AN/ALQ-217 is designed to perform in dense littoral and open-ocean environments; has adaptable system performance; has tailorable hardware and software to new platforms; and fast reaction time, Lockheed Martin officials say. The system provides fast angle of arrival information and weapon system identification; identifies the type, function, and mode of the intercepted emitters; and can pinpoint emitter position quickly.