First Flight for Mission-equipped Compass Call Gulfstream
L3Harris completed the first flight of the EC-37B Compass Call Cross Deck aircraft in a fully missionized configuration on May 4. The outfitted special-mission aircraft completed a four-hour flight from the company’s integration and modification center in Waco, Texas. An EC-37B had earlier made test flights in its modified aerodynamic form but without the mission equipment installed.
Based on the Gulfstream G550, the EC-37B is adopting the U.S. Air Force’s electronic attack role from the Lockheed EC-130H, which has been in service since the early 1980s. Known as Compass Call, the role involves disrupting enemy command and control communications, as well as targeting radar and navigation systems.
L3Harris is the lead systems integrator of the Compass Call Cross Deck team, which also involves Gulfstream and BAE Systems. Initially, the team is transferring much of the existing Baseline 3 equipment from the Hercules to the Gulfstream. Five such aircraft are in the process of being modified, with the aim of having them in service with the 355th Electronic Combat Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona by year-end.
Subsequent aircraft will have a new Baseline 4 system, with software-defined components in an open system architecture that allows rapid updating and adaptation. In addition to the U.S. Air Force, which may acquire 10 to 14 EC-37Bs, Italy has also hinted that it might acquire two or three.