January Spectrum SitRep

A2PATS
Textron is delivering its A2PATS simulator to support the F-35A/B Lightning combat aircraft flown by the Italian and Norwegian air forces. The simulator will help ensure the aircraft stays ahead of contemporary and expected future threats.

Armada’s monthly round-up of all the latest electronic warfare news in the product, programme and operational domains.

COALESCE is More

BAE Systems announced a contract win from the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research in early November. The contract, worth $5 million, will see the company work on the COALESCE programme. COALESCE is an abbreviation for Common-Architecture Amplifier for Low-cost, Efficient, Size, Weight and Power-Constrained Environments. BAE Systems’ FAST Labs research and development organisation will develop Gallium Nitride (GAN) Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) for the COALESCE undertaking. BAE Systems’ press release announcing the news says the programme aims to “to develop the world’s highest efficiency high power amplifier module in its frequency band.” The long-term objective, the press release continued, is to employ these electronics in US Navy systems, notably Electronic Warfare (EW) applications. Ben McMahon, BAE Systems’ subject matter expert, told Armada he expects the GAN MMICs to reach Technology Readiness Level-4 (TRL-4) by early 2025. US Department of Defence TRLs define TRL-4 as components and/or electronics breadboards having been demonstrated in a laboratory environment. These electronics will then be developed into a modular form which Mr. McMahon expects to occur by the end of 2026. He added that the improvements heralded by GAN MMIC components could yield “higher radio frequency power density with high efficiency (to enable) active sensors to effect farther and platforms to endure longer. The RF power output efficiency growth to be gained … will enable power and thermally limited systems to perform more effectively.”

Lightning Reflexes

In late November Textron revealed it had received a $50 million purchase order to support the Lockheed Martin F-35A/B Lightning-II combat aircraft flown by the Italian and Norwegian air forces. Lockheed Martin’s purchase order will see Textron’s Advanced Architecture Phase Amplitude and Time Simulator (A2PATS) support the F-35 Norway Italy Reprogramming Lab (NIRL) being modernised. The laboratory is involved in the testing of F-35 capabilities for both nations. According to a Textron press release A2PATS systems in the NIRL laboratory will be upgraded to “an enhanced frequency range capability (with) additional interfaces to support simulation and test” capabilities. This work, the press release continued, relates to the F-35 Block-4 configuration. Steve Mensh, Textron Systems’ senior vice president for electronic systems, told Armada the company expects to deliver the A2PATS to the NIRL in 2025. Once delivered, A2PATS “will be used to test and evaluate” the aircraft’s electronic warfare and radar systems. The apparatus also supports the “reprogramming of the aircraft (for) both communications and strike missions.” He added that A2PATS “can simulate any real-world environment with many threat emitter scenarios to identify friendly (emitters) and enemy threats, and how they may be received in a mission scenario.”

Aussie Army EW Training

Mellori Solutions has been contracted by Raytheon’s Australian subsidiary to provide electronic warfare training as part of the Australian Army’s Project Land 555 Phase 6. A Mellori Solutions press release said the company will provide training services for the army to support the Force Level Electronic Warfare System (FLEWS). FLEWS is being installed on several army Thales Bushmaster wheeled protected mobility vehicles. These vehicles will serve with the force’s 7th Signal Regiment. David Devine, Mellori Solutions’ general manager, told Armada training will be delivered at 7th Signal Regiment facilities in Cabarlah, Queensland, northeast Australia. Training materials are currently being prepared with an anticipated start date for the instruction in the second quarter of 2025.

Mellori Solutions Trains Army for Upgraded EW Bushmasters
Mellori Solutions is preparing a training syllabus for the Australian Army which will prepare troops to operate the FLEWS capability. FLEWS is outfitting several of the force’s Bushmaster vehicles as part of the Land 555 project.

by Dr. Thomas Withington