C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

Arexis escort jamming pod begins testing ahead of flight trials

15 March 2019

Saab has commenced ground qualification of a prototype low-band escort jamming pod being developed as part of its Arexis family of fast jet electronic warfare (EW) systems and plans to begin flight testing the prototype before the end of this year.

Announced in 2017, the Arexis family of electronic attack pods – comprising self-protection, escort jammer, and escort jammer-extended capability variants – leverages from technology already in development for the MFS-EW self-protection suite that equips Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen E fighter. These building blocks include ultra-wideband digital receivers and digital radio frequency memory devices (DRFMs), gallium nitride (GaN) solid state active electronically scanned array (AESA) transmitters, interferometric direction finding systems, and high-speed digital signal processing architectures.

Saab has already offered a podded Arexis self-protection jammer for export applications. According to Jonas Grönberg, Saab’s head of marketing, sales, and emerging products for Fighter EW, the escort jamming pod is intended to provide strike packages with an airborne electronic attack capability to defeat early warning radar.

“You need high-powered electronic attack to deny shared situational awareness and targeting data, and to negate data networks,” he told Jane’s . “The Arexis [escort] jammer pod has the capability to screen and so protect the approach and departure of entire strike formations against lower frequency radars by the smart utilisation of DRFM-based jamming techniques, such as smart noise, coherent false targets and various saturation techniques.”

Saab plans to begin flight trials of its Arexis escort jammer pod prototype before the end of 2019. (Saab)Saab plans to begin flight trials of its Arexis escort jammer pod prototype before the end of 2019. (Saab)

The escort jammer pod design first shown by Saab in 2017 incorporates L-band and S-band GaN-based AESA antennas in the fore and aft sections of the main pod structure, with large VHF and UHF fin antennas mounted externally. “This version, weighing less than 350 kg, has been specifically designed for integration with single engine fighters in mind,” said Grönberg. “It is powered by the aircraft so there is no need for additional electrical generation capacity inside the pod.”

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