When the jammer currently carried on U.S. electronic-warfare planes first debuted 40 years ago, there were no digital datalinks, no cell phones, no frequency-hopping radios, no monopulse radars and no improvised explosive devices. Today, those developments largely define the threat environment on the electromagnetic spectrum. So continuing to rely on a jammer that predated all of them, first conceived in the age of vacuum tubes, doesn’t make much sense. The Navy figured that out a decade ago, and now is accelerating its search for what’s called the Next Generation Jammer. The new jammer will need to cover more of the spectrum, deal with more simultaneous threats, produce greater radiated power — and oh yes, stop interfering with friendly signals. Four companies are vying for the contract, and whichever wins will dominate the electronic-warfare business for decades to come. I have written a commentary for AOL Defense that you can read here.
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