Electronic warfare employs directed radiofrequency energy – ranging from radio signals through radar, up to lasers and beyond – to manipulate, control, or even destroy an adversary’s ability to effectively use the electromagnetic spectrum. Electronic warfare uses the spectrum to gain and maintain military access to the spectrum. Electronic warfare (EW) is any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack of an enemy, or impede enemy assaults via the spectrum. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly unimpeded access to, the EM spectrum. EW can be applied from air, sea, land, and space by manned and unmanned systems, and can target humans, communications, radar, or other assets.
Over the past two decades, cyberspace operations have become an important element in military operations. Cyber warfare involves the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation’s computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks. The military has already designated cyberspace as the fifth domain of war – along with the four physical domains of air, land, sea and space – and it’s mulling making the electromagnetic spectrum the sixth domain. Cyberspace operations are the employment of cyberspace capabilities where the primary purpose is to achieve objectives in or through cyberspace. CO are categorized into three functions including offensive cyberspace operations (OCO), defensive cyberspace operations (DCO), and Department of Defense information network operations.
With billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to be in operation by 2025, the IoT will truly make cyberspace a ubiquitous and indispensable part of the nation’s infrastructure. The widespread use of IoT in military domain would also give rise to enormous vulnerabilities which the commercial hackers, terrorists and our adversaries can exploit. IoT devices present new kinds of targets, as well as new weapons to threaten economic and physical security. They will offer new opportunities for identity theft, disruption, and other malicious activities affecting the people, infrastructures and economy. Military IoT networks will also need to deal with multiple threats from adversaries including physical attacks on infrastructure, direct energy attacks, jamming of radiofrequency channels, attacks on power sources for IoT devices, electronic eavesdropping and malware.
Adversaries are aware of these interdependencies and are moving out with integrated EW-cyber capabilities. One example is the Russian Orlan-10 UAV, which has been used to insert propaganda SMS messages directly to Ukrainian soldiers by impersonating cell towers and hijacking communications. This and other platforms can easily be modified to attack IoT devices with similar techniques and results.
The Cyber and Electromagnetic Environment (CEME) pervades all aspects of military operations, across all domains, meaning that to exploit it to the best advantage we must consider an integrated approach. Traditionally Cyber and electronic warfare were distinct entities with separate organization and doctrine.
While the need for convergence of cyberspace operations and electronic warfare is recognized within the Department of Defense (DoD), differences between how these two capabilities are trained, resourced, organized and employed combined with the significant functional level differences between the two have hindered efforts to converge their capabilities.
“The biggest hindrance we have right now is not a technological one, it’s an operational and policy one,” said Bertoli. “The Army traditionally likes to build systems for a specific purpose – build a radio to be a radio, build an EW system to be an EW system, but these hardware systems today have significantly more inherent capabilities.”
“Tactical EW systems and sensors provide for significant points of presence on the battlefield, and can be used for cyber situational awareness and as delivery platforms for precision cyber effects to provide a means of Electronic Counter Measures and Electronic Counter-Counter Measures, for instance,” said Col. Joseph Dupont, program manager for EW under Program Executive Office Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors.
“There is no doubt in my mind that we must provide for a more integrated approach to cyber warfare, electronic warfare and electromagnetic operations to be successful in the future conduct of unified land operations,” said Dupont.
Lockheed Martin’s “Spectrum Convergence”
Now, the U.S. military and its allies can see and control the virtual battlefield thanks to an integration of capabilities from the realms of signals intelligence, cyber techniques and effects, electronic warfare (EW), and information operations (IO). The combination of integrated capabilities, known at Lockheed Martin as “Spectrum Convergence,” seamlessly enables warfighters to sense, identify, and neutralize emerging threats operating in the electromagnetic spectrum, including wireless computer networks and radars, as well as satellites, sensors, and critical infrastructure. This provides the U.S. military and allies an advantage in a new era of warfare; one where digital attacks cripple enemies in advance of, and in coordination with, strikes across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.
To fully appreciate the advantage of Spectrum Convergence systems, it’s important to understand the constituent parts – starting with cyber. There are many types of cyber warfare, including distributed denial of service attacks and malware intrusions, which are employed on networked infrastructures of companies, states, or militaries. Such tools can be highly effective at pilfering trade secrets, gathering intelligence, or inciting chaos by shutting down critical infrastructure. Defensive cyber operations are effective at safeguarding information and making platforms resilient against stealthy digital intruders. They can also be used to gather intelligence on an adversary.
How do you monitor and manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum on the go? Meet Silent CROW, an open architecture system that can be easily configured for a variety of airborne and ground platforms, including as a wing-mounted pod on unmanned aerial systems, and potentially on high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and even fighter jets. For decades, Lockheed Martin has pioneered advanced technologies to help the U.S. military and allies control the electromagnetic spectrum to outpace adversary threats.
The latest major initiative to come out of Lockheed Martin’s newly formed Spectrum Convergence unit, Silent CROW was built to enable U.S. soldiers to disrupt, deny, degrade, deceive and destroy adversaries’ electronic systems through electronic support, electronic attack, and cyber techniques. “Silent CROW is the next evolution of our cyber/electronic warfare systems,” says Deon Viergutz, VP, Spectrum Convergence. “It’s a great example of the type of new technologies we’re focusing on – scalable, affordable, and designed to help our DoD customers overcome advances in adversary technologies to effectively support warfighter in joint, all-domain operations.”
Common uses include gathering intelligence on electromagnetic spectrum activity, jamming communications, and protecting against adversaries trying to do the same. “Imagine a weapon that never runs out of bullets, never needs to reload and is constantly adapting to emerging threats,” says Tony Colucci, Lockheed Martin’s business development senior manager for integrated Electronic Warfare Systems. “It’s an incredibly compelling proposition, which is why militaries are beginning to invest so heavily in these systems.” Lockheed Martin has deployed more than 7,800 electronic warfare systems to the Naval fleet, airborne platforms and ground forces.
Finally, information operations (IO) encompasses the collection of information about an adversary’s operating environment as well as the active control of the narrative in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent. Increasingly, enemy forces view IO as the next generation of information warfare. Bad actors now commonly use IO to identify, infiltrate, and manipulate digital forums where people gather to discuss religious, political, or cultural affiliations. As a result, the U.S. military and allies are clamoring for leading-edge IO architecture tools that enable them to protect networks and military members.
While cyber, EW, SIGINT and IO have always been related, operators in each field have historically worked in silos. But that’s changing. On the battlefield, everything happens fluidly, and the tools of warfare need to be fully interoperable and integrated. As a result, Lockheed Martin is investing millions in internal research and development dollars to fuse its research and development programs so teams can collaborate on products that work seamlessly in the field. The company is adding to its ranks of engineers experts in the Internet of Things, machine learning and wireless protocols. They collaborate on developing products that draw from the power of big data, machine-to-machine communications, and AI-powered algorithms to identify the potential threats across the spectrum in real-time.
“It all comes down to innovating more rapidly,” says Edward Thiel, a chief engineer in Spectrum Convergence. “Our customers are really emphasizing speed. The threats they face are constantly evolving, and the warfighter is constantly trying to overcome new and emerging threats.” In the U.S. and Great Britain, military branches increasingly expect government contractors to function more like innovative technology companies. They want cross-sector collaboration and a more agile development scheme that enables their weaponry to be more flexible and cooperative, regardless of the manufacturer. Lockheed Martin has answered that call.
“Based on what’s happening on the battlefield, we’ve reorganized to deliver the most effective weaponry and to stay ahead of the threats in the electromagnetic spectrum,” says Deon Viergutz, vice president of Spectrum Convergence. “We’re embracing an open systems, open architecture approach, where we’re not locked into proprietary interfaces. And we’ve embraced the agile delivery model. This is key to our ability to move much faster as a company to meet the demands of the marketplace in support of the warfighter.”
Whether fitted to a manned or unmanned aircraft or manned/unmanned ground vehicles, weapons need to be software-driven, intelligent, and customizable. The days of stocking up on expensive parts, performing piecemeal retrofits, and hoping the equipment brought to battle will achieve its objective are over. And open business models are here to stay. “Complying with well-defined, open architecture standards, such as the Sensor Open System Architecture and C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards, is the new DoD standard,” says John Wojnar, director of Cyber/EW Convergence Strategy. “We work in partnership with our customers and teammates to take the latest techniques in cyber and electronic warfare from anywhere in the marketplace and make them available in a timely manner. Lockheed Martin was an early adopter in the open standards space – and we’ve been leading the charge ever since.”
BAE Systems believes CEMA Integration is key to enabling MOD to secure and sustain Information Advantage. They explain CEMA Integration as the intersection of the three overlapping circles of Cyber, EW and Security which are focused on the system function of; access and exploit, protect, collect and manipulate, complemented by integration with platforms and with people.
- Cyber – This includes defensive and offensive cyber and wireless cyber; where knowledge of and potential manipulation at a data layer or above takes place.
- Electronic Warfare (EW) – In this context EW relates to the understanding and exploitation of the EMS. It is different from wireless cyber in that it operates on a layer below the decoded data. Communications, sonar and electro-optical may be considered to sit within here.
- Security –This covers protection of the capability. This includes elements of defensive cyber; protecting the information and the capability from threats and the likes of reverse engineering seeking to duplicate or identify vulnerabilities within.
- Platforms – On which the CEMA capability is physically fitted (e.g. ship, aircraft) or hosted (e.g. a database, cloud).
- People – People need to be fully integrated into the operation and capability development.
SBIR on Integrated Cyber and Electronic Warfare Infrastructure
The objective of this topic is to develop applied research toward an innovative capability in Probability of Detection (LPD)/Low Probability of Intercept (LPI) communications network operating in a “zero trust” environment that can be integrated with Electronic Warfare, Information Warfare, and/or Cyber Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) tools to include using commercial off the shelf technologies (COTS) in order to blend into the operational environment.
As a part of this feasibility study, the proposers shall address all viable overall system design options with respective specifications on the key system attributes. This platform must have the ability to integrate tools that can sense, detect, locate, characterize and catalog unintended and intended signals/emissions from non-alerting sensors, and either store the data locally on the sensor for later download or have the ability to rapidly and securely move the sensor data back to a base location without using local cellular networks. Secondary, but required in the overall design, the platform must have the ability to take the sensor data and immediately identify threat related signals for immediate Electronic Warfare or wireless disruption to protect Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel from potential discovery, improvised explosive device/Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (IED/VBEID) devices, or support assault forces conducting actions on an objective. Lastly, the platform must demonstrate the ability to operate as a full spectrum cyberwarfare weapons platform for defensive and offensive operations. In this capacity, the platform must provide options as a rapidly configurable, Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) compatible (secure ATAK traffic), attributable or non-attributable, disposable communications network and cyber weapons platform.
PHASE II will Develop, install, and demonstrate a prototype system determined to be the most feasible solution during the Phase I feasibility study on a virtual private network/virtual private server (VPN/VPS) certificate based secure COTS communications system with the ability for rapid establishment (within 15 minutes or less) for use as an Electronic and Cyber Warfare reconnaissance and surveillance platform with the ability to conduct rapid tear down (within 15 minutes or less) to significantly reduce overall risk to exposure or compromise upon the conclusion of conducting electronic or cyber warfare attacks or disruption.
This system could be used in a broad range of military applications where communication security is a high priority and early warning of adversary electronic warfare or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance threat is high. These tools provide for emergency communications for operations in high threat areas where non attributable, LPI/LPD communications are an absolute requirement.
New chip helps communications and electronic warfare radio systems adapt in nanoseconds
“To address the need for radio systems that can adapt to changing environments on the fly and that can be easily reconfigured once they’re in the field, our engineers have developed the innovative MATRICs (Microwave Array Technology for Reconfigurable Integrated Circuits) chip,” says BAE systems. MATRICs helps address the future requirements of communications, electronic warfare, and signal intelligence systems. The new, general-purpose chip enables engineers to develop customized radio systems without the need for application-specific chips that are expensive and time consuming to develop.
“MATRICs is a radio frequency toolbox on a chip,” said Greg Flewelling, a senior principal engineer at BAE Systems. “It covers a broad range of radio waveforms so that many different types of systems can be designed around it, including ones that need wide spectrum awareness and adaptability to dynamic and challenging signal environments.”
Because MATRICs operates over a very wide spectrum of radio signals, systems based on this chip can benefit from reduced size, weight, and power (SWaP) without the long development cycles and expensive engineering costs typically associated with customized chips. The reduced SWaP of the MATRICs chip makes it ideal for critical applications including unmanned aerial platforms and man-portable radios, where light weight and low power are at a premium. The MATRICs chip also lets engineers create rapid prototypes and working systems that can be fielded faster and that can accelerate the speed of delivery for new technology.
MATRICs was developed and matured with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as part of its Adaptive RF Technology program. The ART program aims to advance the hardware used in radios that can reconfigure themselves under a range of environmental and operating conditions. The speed of delivery from concept to the field is a critical component of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Third Offset Strategy, which has created a demand for agile systems that can efficiently address changing conditions in real-time as new advanced technologies emerge. The DoD strategy also focuses on the need for accelerated development and the rapid fielding of new technology by modifying existing systems, concepts that are at the core of MATRICs’ flexible design.
LIG Nex1 consortium selected for development of technologies for cyber electronic warfare, reported in Sep 2022
SEOUL — A consortium involving LIG Nex1, a defense contractor in South Korea, was selected for a state project to develop core technologies for cyber electronic warfare that has gained attention due to a conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It is a concept of “soft-kill” operations capable of paralyzing North Korean missiles and networks in wartime and peacetime.
LIG Nex1 and two partners were selected by the state-run Korea Research Institute for Defense Technology Planning and Advancement (KRIT) as the preferred bidder for the development of cyber electronic warfare technology that can neutralize weapon systems by remotely using wireless communication.
The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) will lead the development of cyber neutralization precision strike technology, and Korea University is responsible for the development of cyber target penetration and remote neutralization technology. “We will apply the technology developed through this project to core technologies for cyber electronic warfare to the latest electronic warfare weapon system,” an unnamed LIG Nex1 official said in a statement on September 13.
LIG Nex1 would apply cyber electronic warfare technologies to the new version of electronic equipment for ships. South Korea has embarked on the development of naval electronic equipment with improved ability to respond to electromagnetic waves such as anti-ship guided missiles and radars.
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