With New Platform in the Wings, Key Air Force EW Program Continues to Fly High

by Andrew Dardine, Military Electronics Analyst, Forecast International.

The Compass Call electronic countermeasures program will receive steady funding over the next several years for ongoing procurement of mission equipment, RDT&E of upgrades, and an important transition to a new airborne platform.  As Compass Call is one of the U.S. Air Force’s primary means of electronic attack, demand for the aircraft that make up the program has only grown over the past few years.

The USAF funds two programs to keep Compass Call technology current: a procurement program and an RDT&E program. The RDT&E program supports operational system development, and funds the development of technology that will be added to Compass Call. The procurement program funds all critical software and component modifications.

For FY17, the program added two aircraft, to be known as EC-37B – one of which was procured in late FY17.  The other was to be procured by late FY18.

In July 2018, BAE Systems began work on transitioning its Compass Call systems from the EC-130H aircraft to a more modern platform.  Under this Cross Deck initiative, as it is commonly called, the company is working with L3 Technologies to transition the older plane’s capabilities onto an EC-37B aircraft, a special mission Gulfstream G550.

Initial modifications of the first G550 are underway, with the first two aircraft to be fielded in 2023. A total of 10 new aircraft are planned. BAE Systems will continue to sustain the electronics for the fleet of EC-130H Compass Call aircraft.

Based on a projection of the FY19 defense budget, $147.2 million will be spent on Compass Call technology development through 2028, and $436 million will be spent on systems procurement.

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