Declassified assessment highlights failings in major US Navy electronic warfare programme
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has declassified a report drafted in March regarding the US Navy’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Programme SEWIP. This initiative is intended to modernise the Raytheon AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare system which equips a significant proportion of the navy’s surface combatant fleet with new capabilities via a series of four incremental ‘blocks’.
The report highlighted a number of shortcomings regarding the AN/SLQ-32 SEWIP initiative to date. For example, it flagged problems experienced with the Block-2 segment of the work which is tasked with upgrading the electronic support antenna and receiver of the AN/SLQ-32 ensemble so as to enhance the system’s electronic support capabilities. In electronic warfare theory, electronic support is concerned with the gathering of electronic intelligence to enable the application of electronic attack. The US Navy, the document states, agreed for Block-2 to commence full rate production in October 2016 as part of a consolidated effort which merged the Block-1B3 aspect of the upgrade. All AN/SLQ-32 systems receiving the Block-1B3/Block-2 upgrade are to be re-designated as the AN/SLQ-32(V)6.
The report stated that the navy’s Integrated Warfare Systems Above Water Sensors Programme Executive Office (PEO IWS 2.0), which manages the AN/SLQ-32 SEWIP initiative, “did not effectively develop and manage electronic warfare capabilities for Blocks 1B1 and 1B2. This occurred because the PEO IWS 2.0 did not resolve all major deficiencies before or after entering full rate production.”
The report added that additional funds will now need to be spent to resolve ensuing problems. It continued that, “the PEO IWS 2.0 did not effectively develop and manage electronic warfare and electronic support capabilities for Block 2 … As a result, the PEO IWS 2.0 spent $1.8 million to conduct a second phase of (initial operational test and evaluation) for Block 2 and the acquisition schedule increased by almost two years.”
Regarding recommendations, the DOD report stressed that deficiencies with Blocks 1B1, 1B2 and 2 should be corrected, and the navy has responded that Blocks 1B1 and 1B2 will be replaced by Blocks 1B2 and 2, and that the deficiencies in Block 2 will now be addressed.
Thomas Withington, Toulouse