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SEWIP Block 3 bringing improved electronic attack capabilities to US Navy ships

SEWIP Block 3
Photo: Northrop Grumman

As Electronic Warfare (EW) continues to shape the future battlespace, the US Navy is progressing with the upgrades of the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP).

The system protects surface ships from anti-ship missiles, providing early detection, signal analysis and threat warning.

Three SEWIP block upgrades have been established and a fourth is planned. SEWIP Block 3, being developed by Northrop Grumman and the US Navy Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS), adds electronic attack to the SLQ-32(V) EW system, and is a cornerstone capability that will meet the urgent operational needs of the Fleet.

In January this year, Northrop Grumman announced it had reached a Milestone C decision from the US Navy, reflecting the government-led review of the technology’s performance and readiness.

The company’s navigation and maritime systems division soon launched low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the SEWIP Block 3 AN/SLQ-32(V)7 system. That same month, Northrop Grumman opened a multi-million dollar facility specifically designed for integration and testing of the system’s hardware and software.

Artist’s rendering of the SEWIP Block 3 System. Photo: US Navy

SEWIP Block 3 engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) hardware has already been built and is currently undergoing system integration and test. Testing in the high-bay facility’s anechoic chamber has been proceeding well, according to the company.

As progress continues, Northrop Grumman is on track for targeted installation of the first SEWIP Block 3 system in 2021 on an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.

This system represents the Navy’s investment of nearly a decade in advanced electronic warfare through the Office of Naval Research Integrated Topside prototype program. By specifically augmenting and upgrading the current AN/SLQ-32(V)6 (Block 2), the AN/SLQ-32(V)7 will deliver improved, fully integrated, threat detection and active radar-jamming capability, coupled with critical enhancements in coordinated electronic warfare defense.

A SEWIP Block 4 upgrade is also planned. It would provide advanced electro-optic and infrared capabilities to the AN/SLQ-32(V) system.