Lockheed Martin Shrinks Electronic Warfare System

By Vivienne Machi

Photo: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin will soon begin deliveries for a compact version of its most recent electronic warfare software block upgrade for use on smaller Navy and Coast Guard ships, according to company officials.

The surface electronic warfare improvement program — or SEWIP — is a series of block upgrades for the Navy’s AN/SLQ-32 passive electronic countermeasures system. It was established in 2002 for large-deck ships such as destroyers and carriers, but a new version of the Block II upgrade — dubbed AN/SLQ-32C(V)6 or SEWIP Lite — has been scaled down to fit on smaller platforms, said Joe Ottaviano, electronic warfare program director at Lockheed Martin. The first two systems will be delivered to the Navy this spring, and will eventually be installed on Coast Guard offshore patrol cutters.

Later, the Navy could choose to integrate it onto littoral combat ships, he added.

“Once it gets installed on OPCs, I think you’ll see … [the Navy] wanting to have it on the LCS platform,” he said. Ottaviano would not comment on when the service may decide to integrate SEWIP Lite onto a littoral combat ship, but said, “I do believe it’s going to happen.”

“Commonality across the fleet will provide a better training environment and lower support cost for the fleet,” he added.
SEWIP is also expected to be integrated onto the Navy’s future fast frigate guided (experimental) ships, known as FFG(X), Ottaviano said. He would not comment on which block version would be implemented.

The company is also continuing deliveries for the Block II variant of the larger SEWIP system. The Navy awarded a full-rate production contract for the upgrade in 2016, and Lockheed has delivered over 40 out of approximately 100 units since 2013 under several low-rate initial production contracts, with deliveries occurring every month, Ottaviano said. Deliveries are expected to end in fiscal year 2022.

The Block II units and SEWIP Lite share an open architecture interface that allows the company to quickly upgrade systems installed across the Naval fleet, he noted.

“The idea is for these systems to communicate with each other and protect the entire fleet from an [electronic support measures] standpoint,” he said. “That provides the ship’s operator — ultimately, the tactical officer in the combat system — a common picture across all his [electronic warfare] assets.”

The Block II unit’s capabilities are multiple orders of magnitude more sensitive than the current system, he added. “What happens is you start seeing data that you have never seen before. We’re providing more tools to the operator, more automation going in.”


Topics: Maritime Security

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