BAE Systems AN/ASQ-239 Advanced Electronic Warfare System

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (Photo Courtesy Lockheed Martin)

The F-35 Lightning II – detect and defeat ground-based and airborne threats while using electronic protection, support, and attack capabilities to advance its missions. The advanced high-tech feature is offered by AN/ASQ-239. The AN/ASQ-239 is the world’s most advanced, fully-integrated electronic warfare (EW) and countermeasures technology designed, produced, modernized, and sustained by BAE Systems.

The AN/ASQ-239 system is a next-generation electronic warfare suite providing offensive and defensive options for the pilot and aircraft to counter current and emerging threats. Its advanced technology optimizes situational awareness while helping to identify, monitor, analyze, and respond to threats. Advanced avionics and sensors provide a real-time, 360º view of the battlespace, maximizing detection ranges and giving pilots evasion, engagement, countermeasure, and jamming options.

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360 Degree Protection

Always active, AN/ASQ-239 provides all-aspect, broadband protection to help the F-35 reach well-defended targets and suppress enemy radars. This system stands alone today in its ability to operate in signal-dense environments, providing the aircraft with radio frequency and infrared countermeasures, and rapid response capabilities like no other aircraft. Its platform level design provides improved reliability and maintainability, optimizing long-term lifecycle costs.

The AN/ASQ-239 is also built for the future, with an architecture system that allows new capabilities to be added for the F-35 fifth-generation aircraft. Our Digital Channelized Receiver Techniques Generator and Tuner Insertion Program (DTIP) technology upgrades the AN/ASQ-239 system to enable new capabilities, further improving warfighters’ ability to conduct critical missions in contested airspace. This improved EW system delivers the world-class functionality of the previous system in a smaller footprint, reducing volume and power requirements and creating space for future upgrades.

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The benefits of a next-generation EW system:

  • Integrated radar warning, targeting support, and countermeasures into one system
  • Reduced long-term lifecycle costs to keep the aircraft fielded
  • Increased situational awareness for a 360º view of the battlespace
  • Rapid response capabilities to protect the aircrew
  • Reliable threat warning for effective countermeasure response
  • Ability to reach well-defended targets, even in signal-dense environments

The BAE Systems created cutting-edge countermeasure technology leading to an integrated electronic warfare suite for the F-22 Raptor. BAE Systems continued to build on those capabilities, culminating in development and delivery of the AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare suite for the F-35 Lightning II.

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Stand-off and Stand-in Jamming

The deployment of MALD-J is a strategy of stand-off jamming, an alternative to stand-off jamming is aptly named stand-in electronic attack. Stand-in jamming usually comes in one of two forms. The first form is an unmanned-flying decoy MALD-J or Spear-EW. The second form of stand-in jamming uses the strike and/or SEAD aircraft themselves as electronic attack platforms such as Rafael Sky Shield. The F-35 employs stand-in jamming strategy using its electronic warfare suite AN/ASQ-239.

The AN/ASQ-239 offered unprecedented stand-in jamming capability to F-35I Adir, enabling F-35I to conduct missions over Syrian airspace allegedly protected by Russian S-300 and S-400 SAM, followed by stand-off attacks by Delilah cruise missile.

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‘Project Heisenberg’ of upgraded F-35 EW suite

Project Heisenberg developmental work for the F-35 will be flown aboard the CATBird surrogate test aircraft. Source: Lockheed Martin

The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) disclosed on 25 January that BAE Systems will conduct tests of a modified version of its AN/ASQ-239A suite aboard the CATBird surrogate test aircraft. This demonstration of elements of the EW/countermeasures suite on the modified Boeing 737 airliner known as the Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATBird) is referred to as Project Heisenberg.

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“This effort provides risk reduction and early assessment of C2D2 [Continuous Capability Development and Delivery]/Block 4 EW capabilities, along with evaluation of the associated mission data files,” NAVAIR said, adding, “The scope of work required for this effort consists of proposing, developing, integrating, deploying, and operating a modified AN/ASQ-239A suite in a receive-only flight-test/demonstration configuration.”

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