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USMC Harriers, Hornets and Hueys May Do EW

by John Reed on September 13, 2011

While the Navy is replacing its aging EA-6B Prowlers electronic warfare (EW) jets with brand new EA-18G Growlers the Marine Corps is hoping to outfit its F/A-18 Hornets and AV-8B Harriers with new electronic jammers.

The Intrepid Tiger II is the Corps’ homegrown jammer meant to disrupt IED radio detonators and intercept enemy communications. Best of all, it can be controlled by pilots or ground troops. Next month, the Marines will test out the system on a Harrier and hope to have it in Afghanistan by November, according to Marine Corps Times.

No, the Intrepid Tiget II probably won’t make Harriers and Hornets compete with Growlers and Prowlers in terms of high-end EW ability. However, the pod might be a great solution to a relatively low-end threat that’s constantly evolving. And who knows, it may spur further innovation that could be applied in high-end EW.

The Marines hope to someday put the jammer — which is about the size of an AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) — on UH-1 and AH-1 helos and are even testing a smaller version of the device on the RQ-7 Shadow UAV. Intrepid Tiger II is based on the Corps’ Intrepid Tiger I “communications pod” that was fielded around 2007 after less than a year of testing. (Note, that pod, officially called the AN⁄ALQ-228 (V) 1, might already give Harriers and Hornets some EW ability.)

The coolest thing about the Intrepid Tiger II is that it may represent a shift toward quickly developed technologies that can be easily upgraded and don’t require decades of development and billions of dollars to field.

From Marine Corps Times:

The Corps wants a system in which several inexpensive network pods covering different frequencies assume the electronic attack role.

Intrepid Tiger II has a open architecture, is fully reprogrammable and can operate over a far greater frequency range, Schuette said.

The pod also can be networked to form a distributed electronic attack “systems of systems,” meaning it can work in tandem with other pods to cover different frequencies and form a cohesive means to tackle multiple threats.

It can be controlled by a pilot or by Marine ground forces using laptop computers, said Lt. Col. Robert Kudelko, a Marine airborne EW requirements officer. Eventually, Marine officials said they hope to control the pod from a hand-held device.

In the future, upgrades and modifications should be possible without having to retest everything from scratch. If the Corps gets its way, the pod could be updated in less than two years. That’s important because modern enemies adapt quickly, Schuette said.

An individual pod costs less than $600,000, he said, and the total program cost is less than $20 million.


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

John moore September 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm

"hoping to outfit its F/A-18 Hornets " I thaught they already ahd a few like that from previous articles I read but I could be wrong.


SJE September 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

"The coolest thing about the Intrepid Tiger II is that it may represent a shift toward quickly developed technologies that can be easily upgraded and don’t require decades of development and billions of dollars to field."



Lance September 13, 2011 at 3:27 pm

The F-18s in USMC service have to going soon since its A and C versions are alot older than the Navy's E and F versions. Its good there improving the AV-8s and EA-6Bs to prolong there service life's. The F-35B isn't going anywhere for a while.


Max September 13, 2011 at 4:36 pm

The jammer won't stop a wire-controlled IED, but better than nothing, I suppose.


Kski September 13, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Know why is it the Marine Corps always knows where to put its money. Excluding the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the V-22 Osprey. How about we scrap the F-35 program and use the money to design new super harriers, just like what they did with the F-18s. Know thats worth the money.


blight September 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Harrier has limitations that needed to be resolved.

JSF-B should've been its own program, using many common parts but not necessarily a common design to maximize performance.


ebureta September 13, 2011 at 8:17 pm

the f-35 is seven years behind schedual!!!!.the fa-18 is a better act.signed,fa-18 tank buster.


Hunter78 September 13, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Yeah, put pods on these old pick-ups (Harriers). Then you can cheaply put the pods on uavs.


Belesari September 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

Ummm not to sure how well a vehicle that is controled by a outside operator is going to function well when the sysetems on board that control it are getting jammed……of course you could shield it or build it specially for the job…..but not sure the point would be then as it would become as expensive as a F-18 then so..


pleuris September 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm

It's all about complexity. The western way of developing new A/C is to invent the wheel every time a new A/C rolls out. all this to stay ahead of the competition. So you cannot compare a teen fighter with the F-35. It's comparing apples and eggs.
With inventing the wheel the risk of delays and cost overruns rises.


Tim Cheney February 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm

The USMC has just purchased all the British RAF/RN Harrier GR9s why not put these into service with the Squadrons in the anti-ecm role.


blight September 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Alternatively we should be talking to our "carrier-lite" friends (ROK, UK, Japan, etc) because we all have common needs. If JSF doesn't pan out we can always design a special STOVL…however it would be nice if the money we burn on JSF-B delivered a fighter.

Alternatively, if the JSF-B turns out to be too expensive for ROKN, RN, JNSDF, et al, they may opt to design their own together.


Musson September 14, 2011 at 9:10 am

Kind of like upgrading your cell phone vs. getting a new one?


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