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AN/ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare Suite

Success in a contested environment will depend on the ability to dominate the electro-magnetic spectrum. The AN/ASQ-239 system is an advanced, proven, and cost-effective electronic warfare suite, providing the F-35 with end-to-end capabilities, now and into the future.

The AN/ASQ-239 system protects the F-35 with advanced technology for next generation missions to counter current and emerging threats. Equipped with offensive and defensive electronic warfare options for the pilot and aircraft, the suite provides fully integrated radar warning, targeting support, and self-protection, to detect and defeat surface and airborne threats.

The system provides the pilot with maximum situational awareness, helping to identify, monitor, analyze, and respond to potential threats. Advanced avionics and sensors provide a real-time, 360-degree view of the battlespace, helping to maximize detection ranges and provide the pilot with options to evade, engage, counter or jam threats.

Always active, AN/ASQ-239 provides all-aspect, broadband protection, allowing the F-35 to reach well-defended targets and suppress enemy radars. The system stands alone in its ability to operate in signal-dense environments, providing the aircraft with radio-frequency and infrared countermeasures, and rapid response capabilities. AN/ASQ-239 is a platform-level solution that provides the F-35 with improved reliability and maintainability, helping reduce long term life cycle costs to keep the aircraft fielded now and into the future.

The AN/ASQ239 Electronic Warfare (EW) system has performed well in testing. The detection range, Advanced Emitter Location (AEL), Enhanced Geolocation (EGL), threat Identification (ID) performance and system response time all meet or exceed performance specification against the F35 Block 3 advanced threats. Threats are continuously evolving and the current AN/ASQ239 will face challenges against future advanced threats. Future planned improvements to stay ahead of the evolving threats include expanded Radio Frequency coverage, expanded Electronic Attack modes, and improved processing algorithms for advanced and emerging threats. Improved Mission Data File (MDF) development and testing capabilities are also important to the successful performance of the AN/ASQ239.

It is imperative that the United States Reprogramming Laboratory (USRL) be able to test and verify future MDF performance against the advanced threats. The F35 Enterprise has plans to upgrade and improve the Reprogramming Labs to ensure we have the most up-to-date mission data. Examples of these future upgrades include a new, more robust Combat Electromagnetic Environment Simulator (CEESIM) and additional closed-loop threat simulation capability as well as improved tools to enable more rapid and efficient MDF creation.

BAE Systems, a leader in electronic warfare (EW) technology, announced 28 February 2019 a critical program milestone with the successful insertion of new technology into its EW systems for the global fleet of fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. Upgrades to the AN/ASQ-239 system position it to meet future capability requirements and improve warfighters' ability to conduct critical missions in contested airspace.

The improved EW system delivers the world-class functionality of the previous system in a smaller footprint, reducing volume and power requirements creating space for Block IV modernization upgrades. The system update also resolves issues with manufacturing obsolescence that would have otherwise required costly redesign work.

The company's capacity expansion strategy including a $100 million investment in 80,000 square feet of state-of-the-art manufacturing space, process automation, and the growth of its highly skilled electronic warfare workforce by more than 23 percent enabled BAE Systems to become the first F-35 supplier to insert updated technology into its systems at full production speeds delivering 11 systems monthly and ramping production to match aircraft production. The Digital Channelized Receiver/Techniques Generator and Tuner Insertion Program (DTIP) technology was introduced into BAE Systems' manufacturing process in 2018, with the first deliveries starting in July. The team is consistently providing 11 shipsets per month, enabling the company to continue on-time delivery to its customer.

"We've delivered almost 400 EW systems to date, and now we've updated the architecture and are manufacturing it at a high rate of production. This technology insertion gives the EW system room to grow, and will help the F-35 maintain its dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum," said Deborah Norton, VP of F-35 Solutions at BAE Systems. "The successful insertion of DTIP was the result of the outstanding focus, dedication, and teamwork of our engineering and production teams working in close coordination with our customer."

The advanced F-35 EW system is a proven digital electronic warfare/countermeasures suite that provides pilots with real-time battlespace situational awareness and rapid-response capabilities. The ASQ-239 system provides fully integrated radar warning, targeting support, and self-protection capabilities to engage, counter, jam, or evade threats to improve survivability and mission effectiveness. The system builds on BAE Systems 60-plus years of EW experience and legacy of providing 13,500 tactical systems for more than 80 different platforms, including F-22, F-16, F-15, B-1, B-2, and classified platforms.

Advanced electronic attack, a new form of jamming, attempts to further reduce the range at which a modern SAM can engage low-observable platforms. Before the advent of modern stealth aircraft like the F-35, the United States employed dedicated electronic attack aircraft in an effort to maintain the offensive advantage. The armed forces traditionally called this type of electronic attack standoff jamming. Standoff electronic attack places the jamming aircraft outside the range of the threat system. Most standoff jammers attempt to overpower or confuse threat radar systems to allow strike aircraft an unimpeded path to their targets.

The alternate strategy to standoff jamming is aptly named stand-in electronic attack. Stand-in jamming usually comes in one of two forms. The first form is an unmanned-flying decoy. The second form of stand-in jamming uses the strike and/or SEAD aircraft themselves as electronic attack platforms. The F-35 employs this strategy using its electronic warfare suite. BAE systems, the producer of the F-35 AN/ASQ-239 electronic-warfare suite, states the following of the system, the advanced avionics and sensors provide a real-time, 360- degree view of the battlespace, helping to maximize detection ranges and provide the pilot with options to evade, engage, counter or jam threats.

Placing the jamming aircraft closer to the threat maximizes the power output directed toward the enemy SAM system. It also reduces the overall operational risk by decreasing reliance on dedicated standoff jamming platforms. Stand-in jamming is a technology that successfully shifts the offense-defense balance towards the advantage of the attacking aircraft.

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