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Lockheed Taps Northrop, BAE to Equip F-35 With Comms, Navigation, EW Systems

F-35 Aircraft
F-35 Aircraft

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin to enable new functionality that supports the 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II multi-role fighter, Northrop Grumman reported on Tuesday. BAE Systems is also part of the collaborative agreement.

Northrop, Lockheed and BAE will equip the fighter jet with Northrop's AN/ASQ-242 Integrated Communications, Navigation and Identification (ICNI) and BAE's AN/ASQ-239 Electronic Warfare/Countermeasures (EW/CM) system to deliver optimal operational utility. 

“This arrangement allows us to collectively provide enhanced capabilities without compromising the size, weight or power of the aircraft,“ said Howard Lurie, vice president of F-35 programs at Northrop. “We are proud to be a primary partner of the F-35 team, providing our U.S. and allied warfighters superior combat effectiveness.“

The ICNI system will leverage software-defined radio technology to provide F-35 pilots with fully-integrated operational functions. Northrop's design will also enable simultaneous operation of multiple critical functions. In addition, ICNI will reduce size, weight and power demands on the advanced F-35 fighter. 

Northrop has contributed to the development, modernization, sustainment and production of the F-35, including manufacturing the center fuselage and wing skins for the aircraft. 

The company also produces and maintains sensors, avionics and mission systems, and mission-planning software, pilot and maintainer training courseware, electronic warfare simulation testing and low-observable technologies.

Meanwhile, BAE's AN/ASQ-239 system is an advanced, proven electronic warfare suite that will deliver fully integrated radar warning, targeting support and self-protection. The suite will work to detect and defeat threats and enable the F-35 to reach well-defended targets.

“Under this collaborative agreement, we will work closely with Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to enhance the capability of our fully integrated EW system ““ heightening pilots' situational awareness and helping them evade, engage and defeat modern threats,“ said Deborah Norton, vice president of F-35 Solutions at BAE Systems.

Components of the new functionality are planned to begin integration in 2025 and will include upgraded electronics and software.

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Written by Sarah Sybert

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