Lockheed Martin's Electronic Warfare Pod Can Detect and Deceive Anti-Ship Missiles

December 13, 2023 Topic: military Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Lockheed MartinMissilesSubmarinesChinaAnti-ship Missiles

Lockheed Martin's Electronic Warfare Pod Can Detect and Deceive Anti-Ship Missiles

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin successfully carried out trials of the Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare system (AOEW) in collaboration with the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin successfully carried out trials of the Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare system (AOEW) in collaboration with the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. The jammer was successfully employed to demonstrate the "ability to defeat threats" while mounted to a Sikorsky MH-60R helicopter, typically used for anti-submarine warfare.

This marked the first time in the program's development the system was able to perform engagement testing, demonstrate the ability to deter threats, and quantify system performance, while integrated and controlled by the target platform, Lockheed Martin announced.

Though only the MH-60R was used in the recent test, the system is designed for both the MH-60R and MR-60S Seahawk host platforms.

"The AOEW system is one of the most advanced, complex electronic warfare systems ever developed," said Deon Viergutz, vice president of Spectrum Convergence at Lockheed Martin. "AOEW is a force multiplier for our Sailors that will help them dominate and control the battlespace without ever firing a single shot. 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."

As reported by the Navy Times, this is just the latest attempt by the U.S. military 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, and access to that precious resource is expected to be hotly contested in a fight against near-peer adversaries such as Russia or China, as well as other potential threats from Iran and North Korea.

The AOEW in the Spotlight

AOEW is a pod-based electronic warfare missile defense system developed by Lockheed Martin to provide the U.S. Navy with enhanced electronic surveillance and attack capabilities against anti-ship missile threats. To date, the AOEW Active Mission Payload (AMP) AN/ALQ-248 system has successfully undergone a series of incremental developmental and operational tests at the defense contractor's facility in Syracuse, New York.

AOEW can be fully integrated with Aegis Baseline 9C.2+ and the Surface Warfare Electronic Warfare Improvement Program Block II. It can also work independently or be employed with other systems onboard ships and other assets.

It leverages open-systems architected solutions, allowing for rapid upgrades, interoperability, reduced lifecycle costs, and prompt insertion of new hardware – while AOEW's architecture and technologies will lay the groundwork to deliver similar capabilities on other assets such as small ships or unmanned aerial and surface vehicles.

AOEW could allow U.S. Navy vessels to not only see incoming threats but also to respond to them. In 2017, when the program was first announced, the aerospace and defense contractor explained, "The AOEW AMP AN/ALQ-248 can work independently or with the ship’s onboard electronic surveillance sensor, SEWIP Block 2 AN/SLQ-32(V)6, to detect an incoming missile and then evaluate where it is going. AOEW then uses radio frequency countermeasure techniques to deter the missile."

It included an artist rendering that depicted the pod mounted on a Seahawk helicopter "projecting" the silhouette of a friendly warship to aid in countering a missile.

According to a report from TheDrive, "The original core objective of the AOEW program, which dates back to 2011, was to 'develop, procure and deploy multiple ship-launched, long duration platforms equipped with active or passive EW payloads for use in coordination with onboard EW systems to enhance battle group protection against current and future anti-ship missile (ASM) threats.'"

Further testing with U.S. Navy helicopters is planned for 2024, while Lockheed Martin will incorporate the feedback. Delivery of the first AOEW units is expected in the coming year.

The AOEW Active Mission Payload (AMP) AN/ALQ-248 system could greatly enhance the capabilities of the U.S. Navy's MH-60R and MR-60S Seahawks. The service has more than 500 of the twin turboshaft engine, and multi-mission helicopters – based on the U.S. Army's UH-60 Blackhawk – in service.

The Seahawk was developed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). With the addition of the AOEW pods, electronic warfare could be added to its capabilities.

Author Experience and Expertise

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.