Putting Electronic Warfare to the Test on the USS Freedom
U.S. Navy Tests SEWIP Re-tailored for Littoral Combat Ships
The ship designed for speed, maneuverability and operational multitasking is testing one more capability for its repertoire—electronic warfare. The U.S. Navy is studying how a version of the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) performs on the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
The system will allow LCS to detect, classify and prevent electromagnetic interference—preventing hostile forces from jamming the LCS’s ability to use radar, communications or weapons. Lockheed Martin scaled the SEWIP to operate on both the Freedom and Independence class LCSs to improve the ship’s defensive capabilities.
“It’s SEWIP Block 2 architecture packaged to fit LCS, and it boasts the same SEWIP capabilities as the SEWIP systems you find on larger vessels,” said Joe Ottaviano, SEWIP program director for Lockheed Martin. “SEWIP gives the LCS class Freedom the ability to detect targets not seen by other sensors.”
SEWIP is the evolutionary upgrade to the U.S. Navy’s SLQ-32C(V)6, a legacy electronic warfare system that is used on nearly every surface combat vessel in fleet. Lockheed Martin is the lead contractor to enact the first two SEWIP upgrades—or “blocks”—. Each block adds new defensive technologies and functional capabilities.
Block 1 allowed ships equipped with SEWIP to improve anti-ship missile defense, counter-targeting and counter-surveillance capabilities. Block 2 provided an upgraded antenna, receiver and improved interface with existing ship combat systems. Block 3, which has yet to be contracted, will add electronic attack abilities to enable equipped ships to actively jam multiple threats, such as enemy weapons or radar.
Developing SEWIP for LCS was an impressive feat in itself, according to Ottaviano. Lockheed Martin engineers worked on an accelerated timeline in a partnership with the U.S. Navy, packaging the SEWIP architecture for LCS in less than eight months, demonstrating performance for the platform, and then creating a production ready unit within the year.
“The common architecture means that any improvements we make in SEWIP can be shared across the fleet, inexpensively and efficiently,” Ottaviano explained. “SEWIP is a forward-looking technology that will enable the Navy to keep pace with emerging threats.”
Tests have already begun on the USS Freedom, which deploys out of San Diego, and will continue in early 2015.
January 6, 2015