RFCM system

BAE Systems received a $4 million contract from the U.S. Navy to conduct a quick-turnaround demonstration of a new Radio Frequency CounterMeasure (RFCM) system for the P-8A Poseidon. The pod-mounted RFCM system is a leading-edge, lightweight, high-power system that will add a new self-protection capability to this next-generation U.S. Navy aircraft.

P8-A Poseidon
Image shows large P8-A Poseidon Navy aircraft in flight against a dusk sky with thin cloud coverage with attached AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy

«The ability to meet this unprecedented response time underscores our agility, focus on meeting customer needs, and our ultimate goal of protecting our warfighters», said Don Davidson, director of the Advanced Compact Electronic Warfare Solutions product line at BAE Systems. «A process that used to take 18 to 24 months has been scaled to five or six months, which is remarkable, as is deploying this new self-protection capability».

The rapid response is the result of collaboration among small focus teams who developed an innovative approach to the design and fabrication of the system’s mechanical parts. As a result, BAE Systems will design, build, integrate, and ship the RFCM system in approximately five months, followed by two months of flight testing on the P-8A Poseidon platform. Testing will begin early in 2021.

The RFCM system consists of a small form factor jammer, a high-powered amplifier and the AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy (FOTD).

Work on the contract will be performed at the company’s state-of-the-art facility in Nashua, New Hampshire.

AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy
AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy

 

AN/ALE-55 Fiber-Optic Towed Decoy

The AN/ALE-55 subsystem consists of an on-board signal conditioning assembly and the FOTD. The signal conditioning assembly converts RF frequencies to light for transfer through the fiber-optic line. The system has two modes. In the primary mode, the onboard EW system detects and analyzes a threat, determines the appropriate response, and then sends that response down the line to the FOTD for transmission. The alternative back-up mode is an independent repeater. In this mode, the threat signal is detected, modulated, and then sent down the line to the FOTD. The system can interface with any on-board techniques generator, and can convert any technique. This broad capability enables the system to be installed on a variety of aircraft and to handle both today’s range of techniques and any developed to defeat future threats.

The AN/ALE-55 has been extensively flight-tested on a variety of aircraft, demonstrating robust aerodynamic performance and its ability to jam threats. The AN/ALE-55 is currently in full rate production with over 3,000 FOTDs delivered for U.S. and FMS customers.

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