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New sea trials planned for Northrop Grumman EA prototype

An artist's rendering of the SEWIP Block 3 EA subsystem installed on a DDG-51 destroyer. (Northrop Grumman)

Northrop Grumman is preparing to conduct a new round of sea trials of its prototype electronic attack (EA) system for the US Navy, building upon the lessons learned from the system's last live demonstration carried out during the sea service's Rim of the Pacific' (RIMPAC) exercises in the summer of 2022.

As part of thatramp up to the new sea trials, tentatively scheduled for the end of 2023, company officials are preparing to conduct a series of lab-based test and development demonstrations of the Ultra-Lite EA Prototype System, Mike Meaney, vice-president of land and maritime sensors at Northrop Grumman, told Janes.

The lab-based tests, set to begin in the coming weeks, will evaluate how the new EA prototype platform will be able to integrate into the current ship infrastructure aboard several warships within the navy's fleet.

Specifically, programme officials will virtually disconnect the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 3 variant aboard several ship classes in the navy fleet, and swap in the new EA prototype system, Meaney explained during a 19 January interview.

“You [can] disconnect your Block 3 and plug in your Ultra-Lite [prototype], and it will use the same infrastructure, the same controls, and is compatible with everything that's already going to be in place for that overall architecture” aboard a given navy warship, he said. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the SEWIP Block 3 system.

That integration capability for the new Ultra-Lite system into existing ship infrastructure supporting the SEWIP Block 3 is “a key need that the navy has, and we're building that” into the prototype variant scheduled for the coming sea trials, according to Meaney.

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