Military Embedded Systems

Block 4 work for F-35 EW system gets BAE Systems update


December 13, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

BAE Systems image

FALLS CHURCH, Va. BAE Systems is giving an update on its progress as it works to produce AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare (EW) suites for the Block 4 version of the F-35 fighter.

According to the company's update, the BAE Systems Block 4 EW will include substantially upgraded hardware and software; additionally, new sensors will enhance the system’s ability to detect difficult-to-observe threats and more threats simultaneously.

The BAE Systems update also asserts that the new systems will improve situational awareness: In the modern environment of contested and congested airspace, it is critical to detect the enemy’s electromagnetic activity as early as possible and from as far away as possible, regardless of its orientation, wavelength, or however carefully it tries to obscure itself.

BAE Systems officials say that one of the most important aspects of the AN/ASQ-239 system is its ability to detect -- passively, without emitting energy -- a wide spectrum of electromagnetic signals in 360 degrees around the F-35 at long range. The systems’ “staring” sensors are embedded throughout the aircraft, enabling immediate detection of electromagnetic signals, thereby giving pilots critical situational awareness and allowing them to act first.

Lisa Aucoin, vice president of F-35 Solutions at BAE Systems, said of the update: “Block 4 AN/ASQ-239 is designed to detect every relevant threat pulse as soon as it happens. We’re focused on delivering unprecedented situational awareness that enables rapid responses to multiple simultaneous threats.”

The AN/ASQ-239 Block 4 hardware is slated to be cut into BAE Systems’ production Lot 17 in 2024; the company is expected to deliver its planned Block 4 EW hardware on that timeline.

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