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Turkey selects Northrop Grumman for F-16 EW upgrades

An F-16 is flown by Alec ‘Bulldog' Spencer during a mission at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in February 2019. (US Air Force/Tech Sgt John Raven)

Turkey will upgrade its fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft with Northrop Grumman's latest electronic warfare (EW) suite, with plans to integrate the system into future blocks of the venerable jet fighter, Janes has learnt.

Ankara's decision marks the first major Foreign Military Sales of the AN/ALQ-257 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite (IVEWS) for the company, said James Conroy, vice-president of navigation, targeting and survivability at Northrop Grumman.

“We will be delivering over 150 [EW] systems to Turkey for their F-16s, their new aircraft as well as modernising their existing F-16 [fleet],” Conroy said during a 30 January interview. Turkey is one of two foreign air forces that have selected the IVEWS, and the programme officials are “in conversations with a number of countries right now” regarding potential procurement of the system, according to Conroy.

He declined to identify the second country slated to receive the IVEWS. However, he noted that pending deal would be largely focused on modernisation of an existing fleet and would likely not include upgrades of newly acquired aircraft. International interest in the IVEWS system has been prompted by the increasingly varied and technologically matured slate of radio frequency (RF) threats facing the US and its allies.

“What's happening is because of the [quickly] changing RF threat environment, all of the international partners realise that need to have ... RF EW on their aircraft, and they really want to align with the US programme of record,” Conroy said.

As a result, company officials “are in conversations with a number of countries right now” regarding IVEWS acquisition.

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