U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command told the House Armed Services Committee: “They [Russians] have invested a lot in electronic warfare because they know we are a connected and precise force and they need to disconnect us to make us imprecise.” During his testimony, Breedlove admitted that the Pentagon had neglected electronic warfare during the past two decades—which has allowed the Kremlin to gain an advantage. Recently, the Pentagon seems to be refocusing on electronic warfare. The vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is mulling the possibility of designating the electromagnetic spectrum as a warfighting domain—like the air, sea or land. “Spectrum operations are so important that we ought to look at declaring the electromagnetic spectrum a domain.”
“In equipping our forces, we plan to develop advanced electronic attack, advanced electronic warfare support, harden our kill-chains with electronic protection and invest in electromagnetic battle management to manage the numerous assets in the battlespace,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Roger Cabiness told Defense Systems.
Electromagnetic weapons can destroy, intercept or jam approaching enemy missiles, drones, rockets or aircraft at much lesser cost than firing an interceptor missile which can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This tactic would both force enemies to spend money on expensive weapons while decreasing the offensive and defensive weaponry costs to the U.S., therefore advancing a “cost-imposing” strategy, as Cabiness explained.
All modern forces depend on unimpeded access to, and use of, the EM spectrum in conducting military operations. Therefore, there is a requirement to gain and maintain an advantage in the electromagnetic spectrum by countering adversary’s systems and protecting one’s own systems. Thus the EM spectrum can no longer be viewed as an enabler, but rather as a primary warfighting domain, on par with land, sea, air and space operations. This is leading to race among all Militaries to introduce innovations in sensors and communications, countermeasures, and counter-countermeasures in an attempt to gain an advantage over their enemies.
Electronic warfare provide means to counter adversary’s systems while protecting one’s own systems through Electronic Attack (EA), Electronic Protection (EP) and Electronic Support (ES). EA is the electronic countermeasure which includes jamming and deception of enemy radars, electro-optic and communication systems. It also includes use of anti-radiation missiles (ARM), electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and director energy weapons (DEW). Electronic protection (EP) is the ECCM including such measures as emission control (EMCON), communication security (COMSEC) and electromagnetic hardening. Electronic support (ES) includes all actions taken for the purpose of real-time threat reorganization in support of immediate decisions involving EA, EP, weapon avoidance, targeting or other tactical employment of forces e.g. Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) and Communication Intelligence (COMINT).
Some of the emerging and future Technology areas in Electronic Warfare include: broad-band multifunctional jamming system, full spectrum electronic warfare, AESA-based (actively electronically steered array) jamming system with high power and wideband gallium-nitride (GaN) technology; Adaptive and responsive jamming; Cognitive EW, Network Centric EW, Precision electronic attack; Counter-space capabilities (kinetic and non-kinetic); Metamaterials for electromagnetic and auditory cloaking; autonomous decoys; and Quantum encryption techniques (which can sense if the communications link is being intercepted)
Russia has Edge in Electronic Warfare
Russian KRET—Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies—has developed a powerful new ground-based jamming system that is that could disable the command and control of long range UAVs around the world by jamming its crucial datalinks using complex signal. The new system is designed to be seamlessly integrated with air defense systems like the S-300V4 and S-400 to disrupt air operations.
According to a company source—who spoke to the Moscow-based TASS news agency— the system consists of multiple separate jamming modules that are capable of attacking a command and control system at extended ranges using complex digital signals. The system is also capable of attacking multiple types of systems simultaneously. “Multichannel stations that ensure simultaneous inhibition of various avionics systems have been created,” the Russian defense industry source told TASS.
The new Russian electronic warfare system is also designed to be highly resilient—featuring multiple dispersed nodes. “Their energy, frequency and intellectual resources are distributed in an optimal way. In addition, all the modules are equipped with individual defense sets because they are the prime targets for enemy’s attack,” KRET’s first deputy director general Igor Nasenkov told TASS.
Russia Employs Sophisticated EW platforms and systems in Syria
During Recent ongoing Syrian conflict Russia has demonstrated many advanced weapons, one of which were advanced electronic warfare systems. “Among key advantages of domestic electronic warfare equipment compared to foreign analogues can be named its greater range, which is achieved thanks to the use of more powerful transmitters and more efficient antenna systems,” said Russian Electronic Warfare Forces commander Maj. Gen. Yury Lastochkin, as reported by TASS.
Russia has deployed Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) and SIGINT aircraft, such as the Il-20, an offshoot of the United States’ P-3 Orion, and the newest Tu-214R, ELINT and SIGINT collection and targeting aircraft.
Russian Krasukha-4 (or Belladonna) mobile electronic warfare (EW) unit.
Russia has also deployed its most modern electronic warfare system to Syria – theKrasukha-4 (or Belladonna) mobile electronic warfare (EW) unit. 1RL257 or Krasukha-4 is a Russian-made mobile electronic warfare system designed and manufactured by the Company Bryansk Electromechanical Plant (KRET). The Krasukha-4 is a broad-band multifunctional jamming system intended to neutralize Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) spy satellites such as Lacrosse/Onyx series, radar surveillance aircrafts (NATO E3 Sentry (AWACS), USAF RC135-Rivet Joint, RAF’s Sentinel R1 and Reaper drones. The system is also able to cause damage to the enemy’s EW (Electronic Warfare) systems, communications and radar-guided ordinance at ranges between 150 to 300 kilometers.
The Krasukha-4 system works by creating powerful jamming at the fundamental radar frequencies and other radio-emitting sources. Krasukha-4 is able to effectively shield objects on the ground against radio-locating surveillance satellites, ground-based radars, or aircraft-installed Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), according the manufacturer. Interference caused by Krasukha-4 will render radio-controlled missile attacks ineffective. The system has been designed to counter attacks from enemies possessing advanced technologies.
Boeing has secured a $478 million deal to continue work on a new technology with a system called the Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System, or EPAWSS.
US Navy continuous upgrades for shipboard electronic warfare system
Last year, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $267m contract by the US Navy to develop and manufacture the next-generation SEWIP Block 3 system. SEWIP Block 3 will provide Electronic Attack (EA) capability improvements required for the AN/SLQ-32(V) system to keep pace with the threat. The SEWIP Block 3 solution features active and passive arrays, and electronic warfare and communications functions with continuous 360° coverage. Designed to easily interact with the combat management system, the system’s multi-mission technology provides unprecedented situational awareness to detect, track and engage threats in high-clutter environments.
In contrast to traditional systems designed to operate in a narrow range of frequencies against known threats, “SEWIP Block 3 brings active electronic attack across a wider frequency range…with digital processing that will facilitate new ‘intelligent’ EW processing that will enable the system to react to signals it has never seen before,” said retired Navy commander Bryan Clark, now with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “SEWIP Block 3’s AESA array enables it to be a passive sensor, communication array, or a radar,” he added. “It could also confuse or obscure aircraft and ship radars” as part of the Navy’s new “electromagnetic maneuver warfare” concept.
Traditionally, ships try to shoot down incoming missiles with their own interceptor missiles at the longest possible range, Clark says, but long-range interceptors are expensive and bulky, and ships can’t carry enough — nor can the Navy afford enough — to fend off a Chinese or Russian-style mass salvo. That puts a premium on “non-kinetic” systems that can keep shooting as long as they have electrical power, like the Navy’s prototype laser or the SEWIP Block 3 jammer.
The SEWIP Block 3 enhancements for the shipboard AN/SLQ-32 will be provided through a series of upgrades that will involve the addition of new technologies and capabilities for early detection, signal analysis, threat warning and protection from anti-ship missiles.
SEWIP Block 4 is a future planned upgrade that will provide advanced electro-optic and infrared capabilities to the AN/SLQ-32(V) system.
The U.S. Navy awarded the Lockheed Martin an initial $148.9M contract for full rate production of Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2 systems with four additional option years to upgrade the fleet’s electronic warfare capabilities so warfighters can respond to evolving threats.
Under this full-rate production contract, Lockheed Martin will provide additional systems to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32 systems on U.S. aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other warships with key capabilities to determine if the electronic sensors of potential foes are tracking the ship.
SEWIP Block 2 will provide enhanced Electronic Support (ES) capability by means of an upgraded ES antenna, ES receiver and an open combat system interface for the AN/SLQ-32. These upgrades are necessary in order to pace the threat and improve detection and accuracy capabilities of the AN/SLQ-32
“The SEWIP Block 2 System is critically important to the Navy’s operation, and we are proud to continue to provide this capability to the warfighter,” said Joe Ottaviano, electronic warfare program director. “Threats are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Our electronic warfare systems give the warfighter information to enable a response before the adversary even knows we’re there.”
Our Nulka Countermeasures system adds yet another layer to a ship’s layered self-defense system against radio-frequency anti-ship missile attacks. The Nulka decoy simulates the radar return from a large ship overlapping the target signal. To an enemy radio-frequency anti-ship missile, it’s a more attractive target instead. For U.S. and allied ships, it’s the smartest and most reliable way to draw missile fire away from our fleet and defeat the threat.
The Navy established SEWIP in 2002. Block 1 provided enhanced electronic warfare capabilities to existing and new ship combat systems to improve anti-ship missile defense, counter-targeting, and counter-surveillance capabilities. SEWIP allows sailors to protect the ship from the threats you can see (incoming missiles) to those you can’t (radar jamming).
The General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems’ AN/SSX-1 is an electronic warfare system that supports a variety of missions including maritime interdiction operations against weapon, chemical and drug smuggling. The AN/SSX-1 collects precision electronic parametric data and correlates it to specific transmissions from ships and aircraft searching for potential matches. It was designed for the US Navy’s Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) which is an upgrade to the AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare anti-ship missile defense system
The US Navy in collaboration with Northrop Grumman successfully completed the preliminary design review (PDR) for the next-generation AN/SLQ-32 shipboard electronic warfare system.
Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS) programme executive officer rear admiral Jon A Hill said: “This ensures that the cutting-edge preliminary design is on track to meet necessary technology improvements to the AN/SLQ-32 family of electronic warfare systems through specific enhancements to threat identification, prioritisation, defensive systems optimal assignment, and active engagement.”
The upgraded version of current AN/SLQ-32(V)6 systems will offer enhanced, fully integrated, threat detection and active radar-jamming capability, in addition to critical enhancements in coordinated electronic warfare defence.
BAE Systems to develop next-generation full spectrum electronic warfare technology
The US Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded $11m contract to BAE Systems for developing next-generation electronic warfare (EW) technology that will quickly detect, locate, and identify emitters of radio frequency signals over all threat bands and from all directions. Known as the Full-Spectrum Staring Receiver (FSSR), this technology will enable near-instantaneous full-scale battlespace situational awareness, emitter identification and tracking, threat warning and countermeasure & weapon cueing. Conventional situational awareness systems are not able to deliver the high level of coverage and responsiveness that FSSR will provide.
The ONR programme aims to develop and display a range of next-generation EW systems that prevent adversaries from tapping into the electromagnetic spectrum while ensuring unrestrictive usage to the nation’s allies.
U.S. Navy developing Next-Generation Jammer Pod
Raytheon has been awarded a $1 billion Navy contract for engineering and manufacturing development of Increment 1 of the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ). “This is a significant milestone for electronic warfare,” said Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems president Rick Yuse. The first increment of the NGJ jammer is set to become operational in 2021. The Navy will buy 135 ship-sets for its Growler fleet. Each ship set consists of two pods each.
The Next generation Jammer is developed in three increments, the first will target the mid-band, the second will cover the low band and third – the high band. According to Naval Air Systems Command program manager Capt. John Bailey, this second NGJ increment will focus on countering the ever growing threat from low frequency radars. The Navy focused the initial increment of the Next Generation Jammer on the mid-band threat where most fire control radars operate because that is the most prolific immediate threat, Bailey said. However, as new low observable aircraft come online and the number of low-band threats operating in frequencies such as UHF and VHF proliferate, the Navy had to work to counter the threat. Low frequency radars can target stealth aircraft like the F-22 and F-35, making the capability that much more critical.
Raytheon and the U.S. Navy have completed successful flight tests of a prototype Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) pod against threat radars representative of enemy air defenses. The integrated prototype included the all-digital receiver and techniques generator and active electronically scanned array (AESA) front end packaged in a self-powered pod. “The combination of jamming techniques, beam agility, array transmit power and jammer management were very effective against the threat systems and all test objectives were met or exceeded,” the company says.
U.S. Navy had commissioned a $279.4-million contract to enhance the jamming features of the EA-18G Growler airframe to maintain air superiority in the modern battle space when adversaries employ latest radar technologies to counter stealth, advanced surface-to-air (SAM) missile systems and other anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems.
The contract called for standoff jamming technology that brings next-generation jamming assets to the U.S. Navy—hence the project name, the next-generation jammer or NGJ. Such features rely on the ability to locate, record, replay, and jam hostile communications while tracking across an extremely broad frequency range. Maintaining the ability to communicate with allied forces while operating jamming electronics is another critical requirement.
The goal of the upgrade is to present a platform for airborne electronic attacks (AEAs) that could adapt to the latest in EW requirements, which include suppression of enemy air defenses, stand-off/escort jamming, non-traditional electronic attack, self-protect/time-critical strike support, and continuous capability enhancement.
Raytheon has implemented a highly efficient AESA-based (actively electronically steered array) jamming system with high power and wideband gallium-nitride (GaN) technology. “Due to the nature of it being an AESA, you can form many beams or a super beam with a lot of energy. It is agile, so you can dart from one system to another system on the ground almost instantaneously,” says Andy Lowery, the NGJ chief engineer for Raytheon.
The array modules include electronics that use GaN high-power amplifiers (HPAs). Those amplifiers drive the power signals through the circulators and apertures to the array elements. The AESAs can therefore form high-energy RF beams with advanced signal capability that can be steered by a highly advanced and rapidly reprogrammable computer.
The NGJ is built with open architecture technology using Raytheon’s airborne radio frequency systems, jamming techniques, combat-proven antenna array technology, and sophisticated, solid-state electronics. Proprietary and closed system designs limit rapid, innovative technology insertion and hamper the ability to match or out-pace emerging threat developments. The Next-Generation Jammer (NGJ), for aircrafts and unmanned aerial vehicles, has an open architecture.
Network Centric EW
The current platform-centric EW systems are limited in their ability to generate essential EW effects required to counter emerging threat system developments and employ advanced EW concepts.
The adversaries are fielding increasingly sophisticated networked and agile systems, RF sensing and communications systems, including short-range tactical communications, long-range command and control (C2) communications networks, networked defensive systems, and RF seekers. This is partly due to rising commercial investments in RF materials, components, and subsystems thereby reducing the cost to deploy high power, agile systems.
DARPA is focusing on the development of next generation EW systems, to counter these advanced networked and agile systems using technologies such as distributed systems, coherent systems, disposable systems, providing asymmetric capabilities, and close-in remote sensing coupled with advanced jamming and spoofing.
The vision for distributed EW is a network-enabled, coordinated and spatially distributed EW system-of-systems to counter emerging asymmetric threat capabilities by providing time-critical situational awareness (SA) of adversary dispositions and activity, denial of the enemy’s SA of friendly force dispositions and activity, and camouflage and deception to dilute enemy engagement capacity.
Distributed EW will provide the following objective capabilities: wide area, real-time location determination of adversary emitters; automated recognition of threat emitter operating modes; adaptive electronic attack response to threat emitters; wide area camouflaging to deny target detection or cause misclassification of targets; wide-area deception through synchronized decoy control; denial or corruption of enemy sensing capabilities by synthetic generation of high-density clutter environments; seamless operability and graceful degradation of network- enabled functions in dense EM environments; and simplified scalability and ability to upgrade through modular and open systems architecture design.
US Navy and Boeing demonstrate new targeting technologies for EA-18G
The US Navy and Boeing have successfully demonstrated new targeting technologies for EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, in a bid to enhance the aircraft’s situational awareness capabilities. The Growler aircraft is a derivative of the two-seat F/A-18 Hornet and is used to conduct electronic attack (EA) and suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD).
Using the new high-bandwidth data link, an advanced targeting processor, an open architecture and a tablet integrated with the mission system, data was integrated from multiple Growlers operating with an E-2 Hawkeye aircraft. This technology enabled EA-18G to detect targets over longer distances and quickly share information.
US Navy F/A-18 and EA-18Gprogramme manager captain David Kindley said: “This enhanced targeting capability provides our aircrews with a significant advantage, especially in an increasingly dense threat environment where longer-range targeting is critical to the fight.”
Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes vice-president Dan Gillian added: “The complexity of global threat environments continues to evolve. “This long-range targeting technology is essential as we advance electronic attack capabilities for the conflicts of today and tomorrow.”
Global Electronic Warfare Support (EWS) market growing at CAGR of 3.7% reaching $8.6 billion in 2024, says Strategy Analytics. RF-based Electronic Warfare Support (EWS) systems such as RWRs (Radar Warning Receivers), DF/COMINT (Direction Finding and Communications Intelligence) and ESM/ELINT (Electronic Support Measures and Electronic Signals Intelligence) will dominate the market for EWS system spending, accounting for 73% of the total market in 2024.
Spending on EWS systems installed on airborne platforms will account for 36% through 2024. Developing and maintaining land-based EWS capabilities will represent the second largest end market.
Electronic Warfare Support (EWS) systems include both RF (radio frequency) -based and EO-IR (electro-optical and infra-red) and laser-based TWRs (Threat Warning Receivers) which will account for the third largest market, followed by DF/COMINT systems with spending on ESM/ELINT systems accounting for the largest market. Collectively, these sectors will account for account for 93% of total spending on EWS through 2024.
“A renewed emphasis on developing and maintaining conventional EWS capabilities to enable operations in a congested and contested spectrum environment will drive spending and also underpin demand for new systems and upgrading existing capabilities,” notes Asif Anwar, Director at Strategy Analytics. “In the area of RF-based EWS, this will be underpinned by an emphasis on direct and fast digital synthesis of the RF signals across the full breadth of the frequency spectrum driving demand for wideband solid state RF component technologies coupled with higher performing wider bandwidth digital receivers. The associated market for semiconductor components will approach $232 million in 2024.”