British firm BAE has bagged a $58-million contract for the initial production of EPAWSS electronic warfare system for the F-15EX fighter jets, which the US is trying to sell to India and other nations.
This will enable the pilot to jam and deceive enemy air defense systems.
The new system is termed as a major capability enhancement for Boeing’s F-15EX, which is the latest version of the legacy eagle family developed by McDonell Douglas (merged with Boeing).
The EPAWSS (Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System) is an advanced electronic warfare suite giving the pilot an important capability to better protect themselves and nearby assets and monitor, jam, and deceive enemy air defense and EW systems.
EPAWSS offers fully integrated radar warning, geo-location, situational awareness, and self-protection solutions to detect and defeat surface and airborne threats in signal-dense and electronically contested environments of the modern battlefields.
Such threats were broadly realized during conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, South China Sea, Ladakh, and most notably during the Indo-Pak skirmishes of February 2019 and the very recently in Nagorno-Karabakh war.
The new system would replace the Eagle’s old and obsolescent AN/ALQ-135 Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS). Compared to the standard F-15E configuration, jets with the EPAWSS feature beef-up tailplane supporting beams, each of which has a pair of rounded antenna fairings at their ends.
According to the experts, this system is vital in ensuring the survivability of the fighter jet beyond 2040.
The EPAWSS shall give the pilots the much-needed ability to take into account the new developments in air defense systems and modern missile systems, something which the TEWS could not handle.
“An all-digital system, it requires a smaller footprint than previous systems, allowing it to seamlessly integrate new capabilities and remain current. A platform-level solution, it provides the F-15 with improved reliability and maintainability, helping reduce long term life cycle costs to keep the aircraft fielded now and into the future,” the company says.
The improvements in the F-15EX from its predecessors include the AMBER weapons rack to carry up to 22 air-to-air missiles, infrared search and track, advanced avionics and electronic warfare equipment, AESA radar, and a revised structure with a service life of 20,000 hours.
In August 2020, the US Air Force announced plans to replace the Air National Guard’s aging F-15Cs in Florida and Oregon with F-15EXs. The F-15EX took its maiden flight on February 2, 2021.