Full Speed Ahead for U.S. Navy SLQ-32 EW Program

SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare Suite on USS CG-70 Lake Erie at Osaka. Image – Yasu osugi / CC BY-SA 4.0

The U.S. Navy has long determined that an increasingly adverse electronic warfare environment is brewing like an approaching storm on the waterways of the world. Through the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP), the service is steadily enhancing the capability of its SLQ-32 EW systems to provide early detection, analysis, threat warning, and protection, especially from a new generation of anti-ship missiles.

Given its importance, support for the program has been steady for several years running. Based on a projection of FY21 defense budget lines for the program, the U.S. Navy will likely spend upwards of $2.4 billion over the next 10 years developing and purchasing upgrades for the SLQ-32.

The program essentially provides an evolving family of modular equipment that is installed on all Navy surface combatants, aircraft carriers, amphibious ships, and auxiliaries. So sweeping is the demand for systems, multiple major contractors are tasked with fulfillment.

Among recent activity, in January 2019, Northrop Grumman received authorization to proceed with low-rate initial production of SEWIP Block 3 systems following a successful Milestone C decision for the SEWIP Block 3 SLQ-32(V)7 program.

Then, in January 2020, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $185 million contract for follow-on full-rate production of SLQ-32(V)6, SLQ-32A(V)6 and SLQ-32C(V)6 systems. Work under this contract is expected to be completed by April 2022.