Northrop Grumman Corporation’s ALQ-251 radio frequency countermeasure (RFCM) system has been delivered to U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as part of an AC-130J aircraft upgrade. The ALQ-251 will provide superior situational awareness and protection against electronic warfare systems and radar-guided weapons in contested and congested electromagnetic spectrum environments. The Sierra Nevada Corporation is the integrator for the AC-130J and MC-130J RFCM program.
The Sierra Nevada Corporation was in July 2020 awarded a USD700 million contract by U.S. Special Operations Command for the procurement and integration of ALQ-251 radio frequency countermeasure systems onto AC-130J Ghostrider and MC-130J Commando II aircraft. In a 1 March statement, the company said that the first AC-130J aircraft upgraded through the engineering and manufacturing development programme phase would be used to support developmental and operational testing.
The RFCM system, which provides threat detection, precision geolocation, and active countermeasure capabilities, is part of the defensive countermeasures suite that provides the situational awareness and threat response processing required for SOF missions. Northrop Grumman has made little public on the AN/ALQ-251 system other than to say that it is based on a modular, open systems architecture and combines radar warning, threat identification, and active countermeasure functions.
Northrop Grumman’s open systems EW architecture offers the bandwidth needed to detect and defeat the most sophisticated RF threats, including agile air defense systems. Shared across the company’s family of EW systems, which includes capabilities for fighters, airlifters and rotary wing aircraft, this pioneering technology can protect virtually any platform or mission. Northrop Grumman is providing the ALQ-251 radio frequency countermeasures system for the Special Operations Command AC/MC-130J tactical airlifters. The operators of these large aircraft will benefit from the ability to maneuver safely in highly contested spectrum environments.