Electronic Warfare

Navy strikes deal for backpack anti-IED jammers

The military is continuing to invest in giving troops portable electronic warfare capabilities, including the ability to protect ground forces from improvised explosive devices.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head, Md., recently announced a $29.4 million contract modification for back-packable anti-IED electronic jammers to help bomb disposal crews block signals that could be used to explode a bomb or other device.

The contract calls for AN/PLT-5 jammers, known as Thor II, Military & Aerospace reported. The new deal is a modification of a contract first awarded in 2009.

Roadside bombs that can be detonated remotely via a cell phone or other electronic device has long been a problem for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The military has been actively working on ways to defend against these devices for more than a decade, through steps such as the establishment of the Joint IED Defeat Office and the introduction of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which afford much better protection that Humvees. Last year, the Army awarded a contract that could be worth as much as $30 billion for its next-generation Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, intended to combine a Humvee’s maneuverability with the MRAP’s armored protection.

Meanwhile, the military services have been giving forces the tools to help prevent IEDs from going off in the first place. In November, for example, the Marine Corps awarded Sierra Nevada a $73.2 million for 581 of the company’s Modi II dismounted electronic countermeasure systems, which can be configured for use in backpacks, vehicles and aircraft, as well as at fixed sites. Two years ago, the Marines also gave Northrop Grumman a $90 million contract for its Freedom 240 dismounted systems.

Sierra Nevada, whose products are widely used by military and first responder crews, said it has been steadily bringing the size, weight and power requirements of its products.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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