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BAE hands over EC-37B Compass Call kit ahead of next year’s flight tests

EC-37B Compass Call
Photo: BAE Systems

BAE Systems, one of the contractors working on the delivery of the US Air Force’s next generation electronic warfare jet, announced it has delivered key components for the first EC-37B Compass Call aircraft.

The delivery paves the way for developmental and operational flight testing of the Baseline 3 configuration of Compass Call in January 2023, the company said.

Baseline 3 offers additional electronic warfare capabilities, with interim fielding expected to follow the completion of testing by mid-2024.

L3Harris is leading the integration of the Compass Call electronic warfare system onboard the Gulfstream G550 business jet. The G550 has increased speed, endurance and extended stand-off range over the legacy EC-130H aircraft.

L3Harris is supporting initial modification efforts at the Gulfstream facility where the aircraft’s first flight occurred in 2021.

“Since the program’s inception, BAE Systems has consistently delivered advanced capabilities for Compass Call,” said Jared Belinsky, director of Electronic Attack Solutions at BAE Systems. “This final hardware delivery for the first EC-37B aircraft ensures an upgrade that will continue to outpace our adversaries.”

An EC-37B Compass Call arrives at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Aug. 17, 2022. Photo: US Air Force

BAE Systems made the announcement after the US Air Force provided the first detailed look at its new platform during the visit of an EC-37B to its future home at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.

After replacing the current EC-130H airframe model, EC-37B will be the US military’s only long range, full-spectrum stand-off electronic warfare jamming platform.

Compass Call disrupts enemy command and control communications, radar, and navigation systems to restrict battlespace coordination. It suppresses air defenses by preventing the transmission of essential information between adversaries, their weapon systems, and control networks.

All Compass Call aircraft are assigned to Air Combat Command. The EC-130H is operated by the 55th Electronic Combat Group (ECG) consisting of two operational squadrons (41st and 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron (ECS)), a formal training unit (the 42nd ECS), the 755th Operations Support Squadron (OSS), and the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS). The 55th ECG is a tenant unit of the 355 Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Although located at Davis-Monthan, the group reports to the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska

The Compass Call had its first flight in 1981, was delivered to the Air Force in 1982, and reached initial operating capability in 1983. Over its 32 year operational life, the aircraft has demonstrated a powerful effect on enemy command and control networks in multiple military operations including Kosovo, Haiti, Panama, Libya, Iraq, Serbia and Afghanistan.

The air force retired its first EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, tail number 1587, in January 2020, following its final flight over the skies of Arizona.