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NEWS | April 1, 2021

NSWC Crane Electromagnetic Warfare experts reverse-engineer critical technology to maintain fleet readiness

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications

CRANE, Ind. – In less than a year, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) Maritime Electromagnetic Warfare (EW) experts reverse-engineered a critical technological component of the AN/SLQ-32 (commonly pronounced “Slick-32”) system.

NSWC Crane, including the systems sustainment team of Andrew Peter and Russell Jacobs, was notified in February of 2020 that an industry organization would no longer be making the Electronic Surveillance Enhancements (ESE) technology component.

Jacobs says this was a significant challenge since the SLQ-32 provides electronic countermeasures for Navy ships.

“The ESE provides processing capability for the SLQ 32,” says Jacobs. ”Given the system complexity, the ESE presented a unique challenge for the sustainment team.”

Peter says the work to reverse-engineer the component was more in-depth than the type of support they regularly provide.

“The SLQ-32 system is essential technology to the fleet,” says Peter. “The ESE unit was a ‘Black Box’ for the Navy, meaning it was not known how it was constructed, functioned, or how to repair it. The industry organization was the sole designer of the ESE component, and the work was no longer cost efficient for the company to continue supporting. NSWC Crane was left to sustain the technology with little info. It’s a short timeframe for a complex component.”

Jacobs says Crane had to use the principles of Systems Engineering and followed approved Department of Defense (DOD) guidebooks for situations such as this.

“We had to ask ourselves, ‘Was there supportability? Could we do it?’ We have been able to separate the component into a system of systems framework and provide risk mitigation strategies for items we can support. The knowledge we have gained through this process is generally applicable to the systems sustainment process. We are entering into the tangible impact behind this research and information. We have a better playbook to battle obsolescence in the future and improve our capability moving forward in our Division,” says Jacobs.

Peter says this experience provided important lessons to continue to provide support to the fleet.

“It’s also important to realize that this is a situation that could happen again, and not just to our group,” says Peter. “This process provided insight into how the ESE was designed, how to solve a ‘Black Box’ challenge, and gave us a broader understanding of work done on these complex components. What we learned can be translated to other work and projects.”

Peter says there were a lot of people that came together in a short amount of time.

“Russell was a Pathways intern and started full time in 2019. He has absolutely attacked this effort and has shown great work ethic,” says Peter. “We’ve collaborated with subject matter experts across Crane and mission areas and proved this could be done during a pandemic.”

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

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