Machine learning could help the EA-18G Growler’s crew locate the hostile radar signals among the noise, and then direct the aircraft’s electronic attack units to jam those signals
The EA-18G will soon have machine learning software installed in order for its crew to better counter modern radar systems.
According Flight Global such machine learning algorithms would be needed “against agile, adaptive, and unknown hostile radars or radar modes.”
Modern radio frequency (RF) transmitters, including active electronically scanned array radar, can use a technique called frequency hopping to confuse systems that detect and jam their signals.
Countering such dynamic radar techniques is further complicated by operating in airspace that is increasingly crowded with civilian and commercial RF signals.
Machine learning could help the EA-18G Growler’s crew locate the hostile radar signals among the noise, and then direct the aircraft’s electronic attack units to jam those signals. Machine learning software uses statistical methods to find patterns in large data sets which would be difficult to analyze efficiently by hand calculations or other computational methods.
Northrop Grumman secured a $7.3 million contract from the U.S. Navy recently to develop these algorithms at its Bethpage facility. Work will be completed in December 2019.
The EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, which replaced the EA-6B Prowler, is the fourth major variant of the F/A-18 family of aircraft that combines the proven F/A-18F Super Hornet platform with a sophisticated electronic warfare suite.
The aircraft retains all of the F/A-18E/Fs multi-mission capabilities with its validated design and the capability to perform a wide range of enemy defense suppression missions.
Moreover the extensive commonality between the F/A-18E/F and the EA-18G Growler, as well as its flexible platform, gives the Growler much-needed room for future upgrades and growth.
The first Growler test aircraft went into production in Oct. 2004 and made its first flight in Aug. 2006.
The first production aircraft was delivered on Jun. 3, 2008 to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, the Fleet Replacement Squadron for the type, at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. Initial operational capability (IOC) and full rate production followed in fall 2009. In 2010, three squadrons, VAQ-132, 141 and 138, transitioned from the Prowler to the Growler and were declared safe-for-flight.
The Scorpions of VAQ-132 deployed to Iraq as an expeditionary squadron from NAS Whidbey Island, in the fall of 2010. The Shadowhawks of VAQ-141 deployed in the spring of 2011 aboard the USS George H. W. Bush.
Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Torrey W. Lee / U.S. Navy
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
Additional source: U.S. Navy