JED - June 2010 - (Page 15)

t he MARINES GET UPGRADED PROWLERS The US Marine Corps celebrated the arrival of its first three EA-6B Prowler support jamming aircraft upgraded with the Improved Capability (ICAP) III suite in a May 13 ceremony at MCAS Cherry Point, NC. The Navy developed ICAP III but procured only 15 Prowlers with the upgrade from 2005 onward after deciding to retire all of its EA-6Bs beginning last year and replace them with new EA18G Growlers by the end of FY2014. The Corps operates four land-based Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadrons (VMAQ-1 through VMAQ-4), each with five EA-6Bs, at Cherry Point. The service opted to keep flying its Prowlers until 2019 (rather than replace them with Growlers) and to convert its ICAP II EA6Bs to the ICAP III configuration. The heart of the Improved ICAP III upgrade, developed by Northrop Grumman, is the ALQ-218 digital wideband receiver, among the first of its kind that can perform selective-reactive surgical monitor news The Journal of Electronic Defense | June 2010 (as opposed to preemptive) jamming. The ALQ-218 cues the Prowler’s ALQ-99 highand low-band external jamming pods, enabling the jammer to focus its energy on multiple, specific radar or communications frequencies. The EA-6B ICAP II configuration, by comparison, attempts to jam across larger bandwidths, which disperses the aircraft’s jamming power. A second major advance of the ALQ218 is its geo-location capability. It can rapidly and accurately pinpoint the location of any radio frequency emitter it detects, improving “spot” jamming as well as cueing the High-speed AntiRadiation Missiles (HARMs) the Prowler can carry. The ICAP II system, with its ALQ-99 receiver, provides only a “geolocalization” capability – the bearing to an emitter and, at best, its rough location. As a Northrop Grumman description states, “The ALQ-218 utilizes a unique combination of short, medium and long baseline interferometer techniques with a patented passive ranging algorithm to provide geo-location of emitters for cueing jammers and other onboard sensors such as electro-optical/infrared sensors and radar.” Another key addition of the ICAP III suite is the Link 16 Multi-function Information Distribution System (MIDS) tactical data link radio. MIDS terminals automatically exchange situational awareness information with each other in real time and show the locations of enemy air defenses, friendly and enemy aircraft, ships and ground forces on a cockpit display. The combination of the ALQ-218 receiver and Link 16 provides a formidable capability, allowing the exchange of threat warning and attack data among strike and electronic attack aircraft. The Navy has planned to transfer its 15 ICAP III Prowlers (and one converted test aircraft) to the Marine Corps under a previous agreement. In addition, Congress funded the purchase from Northrop Grumman in 2007-2008 of 16 ICAP III conversion kits for the Marine Corps’ ICAP II Prowlers. Those retrofits are being performed by the Naval Aviation Depot-Jacksonville (FL). Thus, the Marine Corps could end up with 32 ICAP III aircraft, potentially enough to stand up a fifth operational squadron in addition to a training squadron, but those options will be determined in the future. USMC LtCol Marty Moore, the EA-6B ICAP III Fleet Introduction Team Lead with Marine Aircraft Group 14 at Cherry Point, told JED that the first two ICAP III aircraft to arrive came from Jacksonville; the third was the first to come from the Navy’s inventory. He said that the Marine Corps will outfit its four squadrons with ICAP III aircraft one at a time, beginning with VMAQ-4, which will deploy overseas for the first time with the upgraded Prowlers in the spring of 2011. All four squadrons will have fully transitioned to ICAP III aircraft by the spring of 2012, he said. 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - June 2010

JED - June 2010
Table of Contents
The View From Here
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Man-Portable COMINT
Technology Profile: RF Interconnect Solutions
EW 101
AOC Election Guide
Index of Advertisers
JED Sales Offices
JED Quick Look

JED - June 2010