Lockheed’s helicopter-borne jammer ‘defeats threats’ in US Navy test

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Lockheed Martin said it successfully tested an electronic warfare pod it’s developing for use in helicopters to detect and deceive anti-ship missiles.

Trials of the Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare system, or AOEW, were conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. The jammer demonstrated the “ability to defeat threats” while mounted to a Sikorsky MH-60R helicopter, typically used for anti-submarine warfare, the company said Dec. 12.

Finer details about electronic warfare performance and programming are often not disclosed due to their sensitivity.

“The AOEW system is one of the most advanced, complex electronic warfare systems ever developed,” Deon Viergutz, vice president of spectrum convergence at Lockheed, said in a statement. “AOEW is a force multiplier for our sailors that will help them dominate and control the battlespace without ever firing a single shot.”

The U.S. military is attempting to reinvigorate its electronic warfare arsenal after years of post-Cold War atrophy. Weapons guidance, friendly communications and suppression of enemy observations all rely on manipulation of the electromagnetic spectrum. Access to the precious resource is expected to be hotly contested in a fight against Russia or China.

The AOEW is meant to extend a ship’s defense, which can be hamstrung by limited line of sight or slow, deliberate maneuvering. The system can work independently aboard the helicopter — either the MH-60R, as was tried, or the MH-60S — and can tie back to other systems aboard a vessel.

“It is designed with evolutionary capabilities, set up to be completely programmable so that it can develop, deliver and deploy new techniques as the threat landscape changes,” Viergutz said.

The AOEW was previously evaluated at Lockheed’s facility in Syracuse, New York. Reporters visiting in early November were shown the pod. Further testing with helicopters is planned for 2024, and Lockheed will incorporate the feedback. Delivery of the first AOEW units is expected in the coming year.

Lockheed is the largest government contractor in the world when ranked by defense-related revenue, according to Defense New Top 100 analysis. The Maryland-based company earned $63.3 billion in 2022.

Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.

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