34 Iraqi F-16C/D Block 52Ms will get the L3Harris EW suites

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The US has initiated an upgrade for Iraq’s fleet of 34 F-16C/D Block 52Ms fighter jets. The key element of this enhancement is the incorporation of the L3Harris AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite [AIDEWS], a state-of-the-art electronic warfare [EW] system. 

Photo credit: Facebook

As stated in a solicitation published on the SAM.gov US government procurement site, the DoD is demanding the installation of the AIDEWS system into 34 Iraqi Air Force [IqAF] F-16C/D Block 52M aircraft, based at Martyr Brigadier General Ali Flaih Air Base [Ali Flaih AB [AFAB], formerly known as Balad Air Base]. The DoD hasn’t disclosed any specifics regarding the cost or schedule of this retrofitting process. 

The AIDEWS is available in two configurations: the AN/ALQ-211[V]4 integrated, and the AN/ALQ-211(V)9 podded setup. The modern Block 52 and subsequent aircraft models, like those used by the IqAF, have the necessary internal space to accommodate the integrated system. However, earlier models lack this space, necessitating the use of the podded system instead. The IqAF’s fleet consists of 24 single-seat F-16C and 10 twin-seat F-16D aircraft, with their delivery beginning in 2014.

Photo credit: L3Harris

Originating from the creative minds at L3Harris Technologies, a prominent American defense contractor and technology innovator, the AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite [AIDEWS] is a comprehensive electronic defense apparatus crafted to safeguard military aircraft from a myriad of threats. 

The AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS is expertly engineered to present a complete set of capabilities, such as threat detection, threat identification, and immediate responsive countermeasures. It employs sophisticated electronic countermeasures to defend aircraft against radar-guided weaponry and infrared missiles. The proficiency of this system to pinpoint, recognize, and react to a wide array of threats concurrently ensures superior levels of protection for the aircraft involved. 

A closer look at the AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS reveals an ensemble of components, collaborating to offer an all-encompassing array of electronic warfare capabilities. These consist of radar warning receivers – tasked with detecting radar signals from potential threats; electronic countermeasure systems – that react to these threats by disrupting their signals; and infrared countermeasures – prepared to deflect heat-seeking missiles.

Photo credit: Reddit

An integral component of the AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS is its built-in defensive aids mechanism. By using sophisticated algorithms, it assesses the threat landscape and suggests the most potent counteractive methods. Beyond that, it’s designed to autonomously deploy these defense measures. This reduces the burden on the crew while enhancing their overall perception of the scenario. 

The AN/ALQ-211 AIDEWS offers notable adaptability and can be comfortably integrated into various aircraft classes, from agile helicopters to high-speed jet fighters. Its versatile capabilities make it a key tool for a myriad of mission types, stretching from direct combat scenarios to surveillance and reconnaissance missions. 

The L3Harris AN/ALQ-211 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite [AIDEWS] not only graces the F-16 but is also integrated into various other state-of-the-art fighter jets. The F-15 Eagle is one such example. Another powerful fighting machine equipped with the AIDEWS is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, colloquially known as the ‘Warthog’. Known for its supremacy in close air support roles, the Warthog enjoys enhanced defensive capabilities provided by the AIDEWS against an extensive array of threats.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Sarah M. McClanahan

Moreover, the EA-18G Growler, an upgraded electronic warfare version of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, comes outfitted with the sophisticated AIDEWS. This aircraft is specially built to manage high-risk environments, with the AIDEWS bolstering its ability to detect, identify, and neutralize a broad range of radar and divergent electronic threats. 

In the end, the AIDEWS is also fitted on the F-35 Lightning II, a combat aircraft of the fifth generation. The remarkable stealth features of the F-35, together with the electronic warfare facilities granted by the AIDEWS, establish it as one of the ultimate fighter jets currently in service. 

The high-end gear on the Iraqi F-16C/D Block 52M includes avant-garde avionics systems, sharp-resolution synthetic aperture radar, and a comprehensive electronic warfare system. Furthermore, the aircraft boasts a versatile mission computer that is compatible with a spectrum of weapons and systems. The cockpit additionally is remarkably equipped with a heads-up display and hands-on throttle and stick controls, greatly augmenting pilot situational grasp and management.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

The weaponry of the Iraqi F-16C/D Block 52M is impressively diverse and robust, offering a broad scope of operation capabilities. This aircraft possesses the ability to carry an assortment of munitions for both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat situations. In the arena of air-to-air combat, it’s perfectly capable of deploying AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. 

In contrast, when it comes to air-to-ground missions, this aircraft is bestowed with a selection of precision-guided munitions, including but not limited to AGM-65 Maverick missiles and the GBU series of laser-guided bombs. Moreover, for those intense close-combat scenarios, the F-16C/D Block 52M has an in-built M61 Vulcan cannon, ready for action.

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