Maintenance technicians from the US Navy and Royal Australian Air Force recently completed a six-week training event on the AN/ALQ-249(V)1 next generation jammer – mid band (NGJ-MB) that is being developed cooperatively by both countries.
The event – conducted at NAS Patuxent River (PAX) near Washington DC saw the personnel conduct maintenance tasks on the new pods, including the removal and reinstallation of 60 components including arrays, pumps, and actuators. The event also allowed the technicians to verify the technical manual procedures, and to provide feedback to the project office and support team.
“It was great to have our RAAF airmen join us for this event,” said US Navy PMA-234 program manager Capt. David Rueter. “Not only was it the first time the maintainers had access to the Mid-Band pods, but also the first time they worked together as a team, and it was seamless.”
RAAF LAC Adrian Bailey added, “It’s really invaluable for us Aussies to be here now, and while we won’t get the pods for a few years, we can take [the training] back and highlight the issues now, so we’re more prepared for it. It’s very different from how we operate the ALQ-99 pods and it’s good to get a head start.
“It’s been a really good opportunity,” Bailey said. “How many times do you bring out a new weapons system and they say, ‘let’s get the maintenance guys there first to see if they can improve it.’ I haven’t heard of that too many times.”
The ALQ-249(V)1 NGJ-MB is the first of three new jammer pods being developed for the Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to replace the AN/ALQ-99 pods in US Navy and RAAF service. The next will be the AN/ALQ-249(V)2 low band (NGJ-LB) system which is currently in its Milestone-B engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) phase – but is reportedly delayed due to industry appeals – and then the AN/ALQ-249(V)3 high-band (NGJ-HB) system.
The NGJ-MB achieved Milestone-C production approval in June 2021, and is scheduled to enter service with the US Navy in 2023.