British multinational defense, security, and aerospace company BAE Systems has been awarded a contract from U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin to enhance the EW capabilities of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter.
BAE Systems was awarded a Block 4 Modernization contract from Lockheed Martin to modernize its AN/ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare/Countermeasures (EW/CM) system to address emerging threats and maintain U.S. and allied warfighters’ ability to safely conduct missions in contested airspace.
“The F-35 will be in service for decades, and we’re committed to providing our pilots with an AN/ASQ-239 capability that affords a decisive and sustained EW operational advantage,” said Deborah Norton, VP of F-35 Solutions at BAE Systems. “Our robust, modular architecture enables us to efficiently insert new capabilities, supporting the next wave of technical innovation while proactively addressing total product lifecycle sustainability.”
BAE Systems has been the EW supplier for the F-35 program for the past 14 years, successfully designing and developing the Block 1, Block 2, and Block 3 configurations, and delivering production units for each of the Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lots 1-11. The Block 4 program is a multi-year, multi-contract design and development effort that will add eleven new capabilities to the EW system. These improvements will be made as part of the new F-35 agile contracting and development paradigm called Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2). The C2D2 construct is one in which capabilities are continuously being developed and fielded in 6-12 month intervals, providing warfighters with incremental enhancements to keep pace with the evolving threats.
BAE Systems has delivered more than 500 F-35 AN/ASQ-239 EW/CM shipsets to date, and is currently matching aircraft production with continual on-time delivery as the program ramps to full-rate production. As part of its rigorous development process, the company invested in process automation, facility optimization, quality assurance, human capital, and supply chain excellence to deliver capabilities to the warfighter with speed and agility.
F-35 Block 4 comprises more than 50 improvements to counter both air- and ground-based threats emerging from China and Russia. These enhancements increase F-35 pilots’ recognition and detection ranges, enabling greater overall targeting performance. Some source reported that the Block 4 upgrades will be “80 percent” software.