The Air Force will be necking down from two self-protection jammer pods for its combat aircraft to one, according to Col. Joseph Skaja, Air Combat Command’s electronic warfare requirements chief. Speaking Thursday in Washington, D.C., at the Lexington Institute’s electronic attack symposium, Skaja said the service has “over 1200” of these two pods “in the field.” The reason for so many is because they have a short mean time between failure, he said. The service aims to pick one pod—either Northrop Grumman’s AN/ALQ-131 or Raytheon’s AN/ALQ-184—to modernize, hoping for greater reliability that will allow retirement of the other system, he said. A single pod “drastically simplifies maintenance and saves dollars for other EW programs,” he said. A solicitation went out to industry a few weeks ago, Skaja told the Daily Report. The Air Force expects to make a choice this fall. Another new tactical capability will be the Counter-Communications EA pod, meant for irregular warfare, and destined first for the MQ-9 Reaper. Service officials are still developing the pod’s requirements. Also, the Miniature Air-Launched Decoy Jammer Increment II system is in the planning phase; it will “enhance the capability of the jammer 10-fold,” said Skaja.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.