Turkey Gets Enhanced Airborne EW Equipment as U.S. Strengthens Allies Along the Arabian Peninsula

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Under the terms of a U.S. Foreign Military Sales contract announced on March 9, Lockheed Martin will provide the Turkish Air Force with electronic warfare modernization on board its fleet of F-16s. Under the $13.98 million contract, to be performed through December 2017, the jet fighters will be fitted with the ALQ-211(V)9 Advanced Integrated Electronic Warfare System (AIDEWS). However, this is not just an ordinary deal, but part of an ongoing process whereby the U.S. is bolstering its allies along the border of the Arabian Peninsula. It seems to be no coincidence that as the U.S. is in talks with Iran regarding its nuclear program, it is also enhancing its allies’ border penetration and ground strike capabilities.

In March 2014, Exelis Electronic Systems announced that Turkey had ordered 21 ALQ-211(V)9 AIDEWS pods alongside support equipment and countermeasures dispensing systems.  At the time, the contract – if all options were exercised – was worth a potential $75.3 million. The AIDEWS pods would provide a significant enhancement to the F-16s’ survivability and strike potential.

The ALQ-211(V)9 is the newest generation of the AIDEWS pod. Its capabilities will allow Turkey’s F-16s to sense radar air surveillance from afar, and will provide pilots with flight path redirection in order to avoid detection.  Additionally, the V9 is able to act aggressively in the event of radar detection or missile tracking. The EW pod’s onboard jammer and electronic countermeasures (ECM) coordinator is capable of disrupting several methods of detection, including radio frequency (RF), infrared (IR), and laser; it can also cue the use of chaff and flares.

The new EW equipment means that Turkey will soon possess a far more efficient aerial threat. In the event of an aerial battle, the fighter jet now has the capability to unleash some of the latest developments in electronic warfare technology that contribute to a far greater chance of winning the battle.

Additionally, the Turkish Air Force’s F-16s will now be far more capable in the aerial escort role. The EW upgrade will give the F-16s a far heightened chance of being able to ferry slower-moving, more detectable strike platforms into enemy territory – in essence, penetrating deeper behind enemy lines in order to perform crucial ground strikes.

The effective “invisibility” that the ALQ-211(V)9 grants the F-16 gives Turkey a better chance of approaching an enemy in the heart of its territory, so it can hit valuable ground targets. Modernization of Turkey’s AIDEWS pods is progressing somewhat along the lines of the Egyptian F-16 upgrade; in early April, the U.S. finally released Egypt’s F-16s from “delivery hell.” Egypt got the latest version of the fighter jet, with all of the improved aerial surveillance and targeting options that it offers, and as a result, the U.S.’s greatest concerns in the area – insurrectionists, ISIS, Iran, etc. – were confronted with a far greater threat in their neighborhood.

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