The US Army has moved the Lockheed Martin-made electronic warfare pod to the build and evaluation phase of the operational system, as it bolsters its electronic warfare capabilities.
Lockheed Martin’s electronic warfare pod, known as the “Air Large” piece of the Army’s Multi-Function Electronic Warfare family of systems program, is mounted on an MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone. It provides commanders with jamming capabilities as well as electronic support, or sensing of the electromagnetic spectrum. The defence contractor developed a prototype as part of the first phase of the project it won in January 2019.
“Our internal research & development programs have resulted in first-of-its-kind converged technologies that are at the forefront of realizing our customers’ urgent need and vision for combined cyber and electronic warfare (EW) capability and dominance,” Deon Viergutz, vice president of Lockheed’s Spectrum Convergence division, said in a statement. The company has been testing the pod as part of the US Army’s Cyber Blitz exercise. Army officials plan to have the capability deployed to combat aviation brigades in 2022.
The pods are expected to play a critical role on the battlefield with near-peer adversaries, such as Russia and China.
“The air pod solutions are very important, especially when you start going against a near-peer competitor. The main reason why is because you start now dealing with more of an [electronic intelligence] ELINT threat than with a strictly commercial threat,” Col. Kevin Finch, program manager for electronic warfare and cyber within Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, said.