Boeing to upgrade RF and microwave avionics on Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet combat aircraft

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 6 June 2016. Military avionics experts at the Boeing Co. will design and build an advanced electronic device that enables two or more RF and microwave systems to operate together aboard the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F and EA-18G combat aircraft without interfering with each other.

Jun 6th, 2016
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PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md., 6 June 2016. Military avionics experts at the Boeing Co. will design and build an advanced electronic device that enables two or more RF and microwave systems to operate together aboard the U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F and EA-18G combat aircraft without interfering with each other.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., announced a $13.5 million order to the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment in St. Louis to build and test the Radio Frequency Blanking Unit (RFBU).

An RF interference blanker permits simultaneous operation of two or more pieces of radio or radar equipment without confusion of intelligence, or that suppresses undesired signals when used with one receiver.

The RFBU is to be a form, fit, and function replacement for the Enhanced Interference Blanking Unit (EIBU) aboard the Navy's carrier-based F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet jet fighter bomber and EA-18G Growler Electronic Warfare aircraft.

The RFBU will help mitigate the effects of co-site interference aboard the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft. Both Navy planes have many sophisticated RF and microwave systems on board, which can pose the risk of interfering with one another -- especially on a platform with such closely spaced antennas as an aircraft.

Related: EA-18G Growler avionics similar to F/A-18 F Super Hornet

The RFBU will be same-size upgrade and replacement of the EIBU that switches out obsolete electronic parts, or those difficult-to-find parts with diminishing manufacturing sources. Boeing also will design the new RFBU to accommodate future upgrades and growth in capabilities, Navy officials say.

The Navy is awarding the order to Boeing sole-source because Boeing -- the original manufacturer of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft -- is the only source with the knowledge, expertise, facilities, and qualified personnel to build the new RFBU quickly enough to meet Navy needs, Navy officials say.

Of particular Navy interest for the RFBU is the AN/USQ-140 Multifunctional Informational Distribution System (MIDS) Low Volume Terminal (LVT) aboard the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G aircraft. MIDS LVT is a secure data and voice communication network using the Link-16 tactical wireless networking architecture.

MIDS LVT provides enhanced situational awareness, positive identification of participants within the network, secure fighter-to-fighter voice and data networking, secure voice communications, and tactical air navigation. The new RFBU will enhance input/output signal capacity for the MIDS LVT aboard the Navy aircraft.

On this order Boeing will do the work in St. Louis and in Melbourne, Fla., and should be finished by February 2018. For more information contact Boeing Defense, Space & Security online at www.boeing.com/defense, or Naval Air Systems Command at www.navair.navy.mil.

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