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Military Race for convergence of Cyber, Space, EW, Signals intelligence and Communications technologies for Information Dominance

Joint Publication (JP 1-02) defined the electromagnetic spectrum as the “range of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation from zero to infinity” (U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2010b). In a more detailed interpretation, the electromagnetic spectrum is a series of frequencies  from the lowest to the highest frequency (longest to shortest wavelength), includes all radio waves (e.g., commercial radio and television, microwaves, radar), infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays, and gamma rays.”  As the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation shortens, the waves have a higher frequency—how quickly electromagnetic waves follow each other—and therefore more energy.

 

The military uses the entire spectrum to support intelligence and military operations. Nearly every modern weapons system—airplanes, satellites, tanks, ships, and radios—depends on the spectrum to function. These applications can be combined to provide an overall military capability, such as command and control or electronic warfare.  The spectrum is what ties everything together.

 

Military information and communication systems especially wireless connections operate by accessing the electromagnetic spectrum, such as radar systems and navigation equipment and their controlling computers. These applications range from using very low frequency radio waves to communicate with submarines underwater, to microwaves as a continuous datalink between aircraft, and to lasers in the infrared and ultraviolet ends of the spectrum to dazzle satellite sensors and destroy drones.

 

Modern militaries use radars and other sensors to locate each other and the enemy, wireless computer networks to order supplies and coordinate operations, and jammers to degrade enemy radars or disrupt communications that are critical for effective command and control. The radars and recently light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems are used to develop a picture of the battlespace by providing the location of friendly and enemy forces.  In general, communications systems use radio and microwave frequencies; however, emerging communications technologies use lasers—transmitting light, instead of radio waves, between antennas.

 

Next, there’s electronic warfare. It 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.

 

EW comprises three categories with offensive, defensive, and preventative functions: electronic support, electronic attack, and electronic protection. The three constituents of EW are referred as Electronic Attack (EA), Electronic Protection (EP) and Electronic Support (ES). EA is the electronic countermeasure that 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 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).

 

SIGINT capabilities allow military forces to understand where adversary forces are located as well as what frequencies they use for communications and radars.  The SIGINT mission is critical for EW personnel to characterize the signals they are prosecuting to allow them to observe all aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum. This intelligence, called electronic support by the military, is then used to develop an operational plan to jam (i.e., attack an adversary’s use of the spectrum) radio frequencies. Moreover, it helps confirm targets, support battle damage assessments, and cross-cue other tactical and national assets for more precise geolocations to do real-time targeting. “With the ability to fuse EW, SIGINT, and imagery from all sources, the power at the strategic and tactical edges is endless,” said Louise Doyon, director of Multi-domain Weapons Systems.

 

Militaries can develop techniques to protect themselves from attacks using SIGINT capabilities on their own forces. Low observable weapons systems manipulate the spectrum to reduce their electromagnetic signatures—such as radar return, radio emission, and even heat. This can be achieved by reducing radar signature, creating narrow radio beams to reduce the probability of detection, or reducing spectrum emissions entirely.

 

Then there is signals intelligence (SIGINT); powerful tool commanders can use to harness critical information for today’s and future fights.

 

DoD’s growing requirements to gather, analyze, and share information rapidly; to control an increasing number of automated Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets; to command geographically dispersed and mobile forces to gain access into denied areas; and to “train as we fight” requires that DoD maintain sufficient spectrum access,” said DOD’s Electromagnetic Spectrum Strategy unveiled in February 2014. In Oct 2020,  the Department of Defense announced the release of the DOD Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy. It recognized, “The  Freedom of action in the electromagnetic spectrum, at the time, place, and parameters of our choosing, is a required precursor to the successful conduct of operations in all domains.”

 

As U.S. forces are organized around domains, the EMS not only provides the critical connective tissue that enables all-domain operations, but represents a natural seam and critical vulnerability across joint force operations. This Strategy aims to mitigate vulnerability by creating the conditions to ensure EMS superiority. As such, operations in the EMS require prioritization, resourcing, and governance as an enterprise. The strategy acknowledged that adversaries like Russia  have developed a range of offensive and defensive Airborne, UAV and ground based electronic warfare systems, deployed them in it’s conflicts and also has developed tactics to employ them effectively in warfare.

 

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.

 

Convergence of Cyberspace Operations and Electronic Warfare

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.

 

National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations of the USA,  defines cyberspace as  “a domain characterised by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to store, modify, and exchange data via networked systems and associated physical infrastructures.  Military forces use wireless computer networks to coordinate operations, use air and ground sensors to detect and locate the enemy, use radios to communicate with each other and use electronic jammers to blind enemy radars or disrupt their communications. An important feature of cyberspace is that networked info-communication systems operate in it using electromagnetic spectrum and/or wired connection.

 

One main characteristic of cyberspace is that it cannot exist without being able to exploit the naturally existing electromagnetic spectrum. Without it, not only would millions of info-communications technologies (ICT) be unable to communicate with each other, but the info-communications technologies themselves would be unable to function. Moreover, info-communications networks are also dependent upon the electromagnetic spectrum for their essential connectivity via radio frequency.

 

With wireless routers or tactical radios part of almost every computer network, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum now form on a continuous, coherent environment. Similarly in the battlefield nowadays, radios, radars, navigation devices, battlefield combat identification systems and computers are increasingly networked. As more and more  stand alone devices (e.g., stand alone unattended sensors, expendable jammers, radio controlled improvised explosion devices, etc.) are being networked,  the cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum are approaching each other and there is a convergence between them.

 

Both Cyberspace and the Electronic Warfare are part of the information environment. Information warfare is “Actions taken to achieve information superiority by affecting adversary information, information-based processes, information systems, and computer based networks while defending one’s own information, information-based processes, information systems and computer-based network, as defined by CJCSI 3210.01 (1996).

 

Both cyberspace operations and EW are efforts to dominate aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) that transmit packets of information. As such, EW and cyberspace operations have traditionally been used as part of a broader information operations (IO) campaign, and previously existed in joint doctrine as two of the five pillars of IO (along with psychological operations, military deception, and operations security). These capabilities are increasingly being used in support of operations in the information environment (IE)—the aggregate of social, cultural, cognitive, technical and physical attributes that ultimately affect action.

 

The information environment has three interrelated dimensions: physical dimension; informational dimension and cognitive dimension. In 2010, cyberspace was designated as a global warfighting domain that exists within the information environment, which in turn is defined as the aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information. Electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace reside within the physical and informational dimensions of the information environment.

 

US Joint doctrine (U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2007) provides further details on the relation between EW and Cyber. “There is an electromagnetic spectrum portion of the information environment.”All modern forces depend on unimpeded access to, and use of, the electromagnetic 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.

 

Current and evolving DOD doctrine refers to EMS operations and cyberspace operations as separate but related to operations in the IE. Operations in the information environment attempt either to limit or distort a potential adversary’s access to information, thereby limiting
their situational awareness and potentially altering adversary decisions. CO and EW are both tools to achieve these ends.

 

Part of the convergence involves not just similarities in technical capabilities, but also cyberspace operations being used to provide EW effects, and vice versa. Cyberspace operations attempt to deny an adversary access to their computer networks using software and computer codes. EW affects communications between networks using radio jamming or other spectrum controls, while cyber operations use computer code to provide a range of effects from disruptive (e.g., denial of service attacks) to destructive (e.g., physically damaging computer components and platforms).

 

The most recognizable convergence of electronic warfare and cyberspace operations is when forces transmit computer code to inject it into an adversary’s network. In these types of operations, radios can transmit data packets on Wi-Fi networks, even if these networks are closed (i.e., not connected to the internet). Similarly, if an adversary operates a closed wired network, forces can potentially tap into the connections and listen to transmissions or even plant nefarious applications.

 

Both CO and EW can affect space operations. Satellites are controlled using ground control systems that rely on computers to maintain orbit parameters and direct onboard sensors, particularly to maintain stable orbits; radios transmit computer commands to the satellites. Computer code transmitted directly to satellites in orbit can potentially allow remote control of the system, preventing others’ access to onboard sensors or communications systems.

 

Adversaries could similarly enter ground control systems and issue alternative orders to satellites to move them out of position or shut off critical systems. Because satellites routinely receive commands using radio frequencies, an adversary might attempt to shut off sensors or directly gain control of the spacecraft, rather than trying to issue orders through a ground control system.

 

Cyberspace operations can also affect the electromagnetic spectrum. Active electronic scanned array (AESA) radars (which allow thousands of radio beams to transmit at once) and software defined radios (which transform how a radio wave is transmitted) rely on computer systems to manage spectrum operations. Software can help shape how these radios transmit, potentially making it difficult for an adversary to either detect or intercept radio or radar transmissions. Changes to the software can easily transform a radar or radio from a receiver to a transmitter. Having small, adjustable arrays allows AESA radars, in particular, to focus small beams of radio energy on potential targets.

 

Radio systems like the multifunctional advanced data link on the F-35 Lightning II or the intra-flight data link on the F-22 Raptor communicate with each other by transmitting intelligence and targeting information seamlessly, while limiting their electromagnetic signature to prevent adversaries from detecting or intercepting their communications.

 

Military Race Cyber electromagnetic operations, integrating cyber, electronic warfare, SIGINT and communications

A new race has emerged  among countries  to integrate cyber and electronic warfare.  The aim is to control  the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum – the term given to the range of EM radiation, from radio waves to gamma-rays.

 

The essential cyber electromagnetic activity is to integrate and synchronise the functions and capabilities of cyberspace operations, electronic warfare, and spectrum management operations to produce complementary and reinforcing effects. The uncoordinated activities may result in conflicts and mutual interference between them and with other entities that use the electromagnetic spectrum.

 

Cyber electromagnetic activities consist of: cyberspace operations; electronic warfare and  spectrum management operations. “Spectrum management operations are the interrelated functions of spectrum management, frequency assignment, host-nation coordination, and policy that enable the planning, management, and execution of operations within the electromagnetic operational environment during all phases of military operations.” The fundamental aim of the cyber electromagnetic operations is to ensure use of the friendly networked electronic info-communications systems and the processes in them, and to detect, reduce and degrade the adversary’s similar capabilities. These operations can be offensive and defensive.

 

“Russia has demonstrated joint electronic warfare and cyber capabilities in Syria, where a swarm of 13 UAVs in January of 2017 attempting to strike Russian combat headquarters at Khmeimim Air Base was jointly disabled by electronic countermeasures and anti-aircraft missiles,” Sam Cohen, a Master’s student in defence and strategic studies at Missouri State University and a former Asia-Pacific security risk analyst at Horizon Intelligence. Cohen writes. “Seven of the unmanned aircraft were engaged by the Pantsir air-defense missile system while the remaining six were likely brought down from some sort of command disruption, which could have been anything ranging from a cyber attack overriding external controls to the jamming of GPS uplinks to interfere with navigation systems.”

 

US Army says it is taking several steps to integrate what until recently has been thought of as distinct military disciplines: electronic warfare, military intelligence, signals and cyber. The observable results over the coming year, officials said, will be more common equipment, changes to the way the Army trains and educates its soldiers and a new infusion of electronic warfare capabilities into its brigades. DoD’s Joint Requirements Oversight Council signed off on a new program in Dec 2017, the Terrestrial Layer Intelligence System (TLIS), which officials say will combine the Army’s needs for ground-based electronic attack and military intelligence into a single platform. The system is set for initial prototyping during 2018. Morrison said it came about only after the Army’s EW and intelligence communities decided that they needed to collaborate.

 

Australia’s  further want to integrate communications with EW and Cyber. The Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division (CEWD) of DSTO brings together all four areas of cyber, EW, SIGINT and communications. DSTO cyber science and technology plan “Cyber 2020 Vision”says, “There is a growing relationship between cyber, electronic warfare, signals intelligence and communications. This is being driven by common technologies and challenges, but most importantly by the evolution of military capabilities to networked, distributed cyber-physical systems whose functionality and performance is defined in software rather than hardware. The challenges in protecting and countering these complex systems-of-systems require the development of new concepts that will leverage all four areas of cyber, EW, SIGINT and communications.”

 

China wants to integrate EW, Communications, Cyber with Space, this shall give advantage of global effect.  Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA’s) new Strategic Support Force (SSF) is a critical force for dominance in the space, cyber, and electromagnetic domains. In its design, the SSF is intended to be optimized for future warfare, in which the PLA anticipates such “strategic frontiers” as space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic domain will be vital to victory, while unmanned, “intelligentized,” and stealthy weapons systems take on an increasingly prominent role. According to its commander, Gao Jin, the SSF will “protect the high frontiers and new frontiers of national security,” while seeking to “seize the strategic commanding heights of future military competition.” Through its integration of space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities, the SSF may be uniquely able to take advantage of cross-domain synergies resulting from the inherent interrelatedness and technological convergence of operations in these domains.

 

US military experts recognised the force multiplier role of the common cyber and electromagnetic domain and the synchronised information technical activities within it. Based on this idea, a new operational concept was developed in the FM 3-38 Cyber electromagnetic activities doctrine, which was issued in February 2014.“Cyber electromagnetic activities are activities leveraged to seize, retain, and exploit an advantage over adversaries and enemies in both cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, while simultaneously denying and degrading adversary and enemy use of the same and protecting the mission command system.”

 

US Navy vision also says, “We will conduct operations in and through cyberspace, the electromagnetic spectrum, and space to ensure Navy and Joint freedom of action and decision superiority while denying the same to our adversaries.” This is essential for addressing the critical challenges we face globally as a Navy, especially from state and non-state actors who can complicate the ability of naval forces to move into a theater (anti-access) and maneuver within the theater (area-denial).

 

China’s Strategic Support Force (SSF) PLA’s integrated space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities

Chinese military strategists increasingly prioritize the exploitation and domination of the electromagnetic spectrum in their evolving military doctrines. To deter China’s adversaries both militarily and psychologically, they advocate the deeper integration of computer networks into electronic warfare, with such capabilities to be used alongside precision kinetic strikes. Anticipating a fast-paced future battlefield, China also appears poised to apply advanced technology such as AI and machine learning to the task of strengthening its electronic warfare capabilities. The People’s Liberation Army’s definition of electronic countermeasures covers a much wider scope of both defensive and offensive operations, and it is roughly the equivalent of the term “electronic warfare” in U.S. military doctrine.

 

Chinese strategists prioritize “national and military decision-makers” as key targets for strikes under its electronic warfare operations. Other targets include “national information infrastructure,” “strategic early warning systems,” “the military information system,” and “communications systems within the adversary’s national financial, energy, and transportation systems.” This at least partially explains the People’s Liberation Army’s obsession with concepts such as “networked electromagnetic warfare (网络电磁空间战)” or “integrated network and electronic warfare (网电一体战).” The “soft” exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum, according to Chinese writers, enables the People’s Liberation Army to “paralyze” or “hijack” the adversary’s systems to achieve a holistic objective of influencing enemy decision-makers. And, by definition, this may be used in conjunction with other political, diplomatic, economic, science and technology, or cultural tools that are non-military in nature.

 

Furthermore, People’s Liberation Army thinkers continue to emphasize integrated electronic and network operations, with added emphasis on the application of intelligent technological means such as big data analytics, cloud computing, and deep learning. Electronic warfare is described as an “external disruption (外扰)” while computer network attack is considered “destruction from within (內攻).” Electronic warfare utilizes electromagnetic energy to isolate, obstruct, and destroy enemy’s electronic systems, confusing enemy sensors, disrupt command and control, and degrade joint operations. Computer network operations injects viruses and malware into enemy systems to achieve the same effect on enemy combat system of systems.

 

China has also integrated space into Electronic warfare and Cyber warfare. In a 2017 discussion on space-based electronic countermeasures, an author possibly affiliated with China’s military space program noted that “integrated electronic and network attacks on an adversary’s networked information system can be achieved through satellite datalinks and spoofing … which will significantly improve the combat effectiveness.”

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has tasked the new People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) with pursuing “leapfrog development” and advancing military innovation. The SSF, which has consolidated the PLA’s space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities, has consistently been characterized as a “growth point” for the construction of “new-type” forces, while also considered an important force in joint operations. The SSF not only possesses the capabilities to contest space and cyberspace, the “new commanding heights of strategic competition,” but also may take responsibility for the PLA’s initial experimentation with and eventual employment of a range of “new concept weapons.

 

Based on the available information, the SSF is composed of the Aerospace Systems Department, which has seemingly consolidated control over a critical mass of the PLA’s space-based C4ISR systems; and the Cyber (or Network) Systems Department, which appears to integrate the PLA’s information warfare capabilities, enabling the coordinated pursuit of electronic countermeasures, cyber attack and defense, and psychological warfare missions.

 

Beyond information warfare, the SSF has taken responsibility for strategic-level information support, through activities including intelligence and technical reconnaissance, to the rest of the PLA. While the integration of information warfare capabilities is consistent with trends in the PLA’s doctrinal writings, this integrated approach to information support across these domains reflects a more novel change that could enhance the PLA’s capability to actualize integrated joint operations.

 

Indeed, according to an authoritative text, Theater Command Joint Operations Command, the SSF is tasked to engage in intelligence and reconnaissance activities for the space, cyber, and electromagnetic battlefields, given its responsibility for operations in these domains, and also to provide operational support to each of the PLA’s five theater commands. In this regard, the SSF is designed to provide an “information umbrella” to the PLA as a whole.

 

In particular, according to influential military commentator Yin Zhuo, the SSF is intended to constitute the entirety of the “information chain” that is so integral to informatized warfare, ‘from the initial intelligence, reconnaissance, and early warning; then, information transmission, information processing, and information distribution; after the outbreak of hostilities, problems of guidance, judging the effect of strikes…and second strikes.’

 

Australia DSTO’s Cyber-EW Continuum

The Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division (CEWD) of DSTO brings together all four areas of cyber, EW, SIGINT and communications. The Division will align its S&T program with the concept of the Cyber-EW Continuum and will include analysis and development of concepts and techniques that cannot clearly be defined as falling into any single area (i.e. cyber, EW, SIGINT or communications); combined techniques from two or more of the areas to create an overall countermeasure effect; and the use of one capability (e.g. communications) to support the implementation of a technique from another area (e.g. EW).

 

“Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division was formed as a result of the recognition that cyber and EW domains share a number of characteristics; both develop situational awareness to gain warning of threats and to characterise the signatures of existing known threats in order to enable rapid identification, both develop defensive techniques to neutralize the effect of threats when they are encountered, and both develop effectors intended to shape the battlespace and to impact on an adversary’s capability to operate in the cyber or EW domain,” says Dr Jackie Craig Chief, Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division.

 

US Army plans integrated  C4ISR for cyberspace and electronic warfare capabilities

An unclassified U.S. Army Cyber and Electronic Warfare Operations Field Manual released in April 2017 states that, “Employing cyberspace and electronic warfare capabilities under a single planning, integration and synchronization methodology increases the operational commander’s ability to understand the environment, project power and synchronize multiple operations using the same domain and environment.” Coordinating offensive and defensive activities under a unified approach will likely allow a faster response time to enemy actions. The spectrum is the common denominator for both cyberspace and electronic warfare operations, which suggests that independent approaches to securing information networks may leave vulnerabilities for adversaries to exploit in either cyberspace or in the electromagnetic spectrum.

 

Spectranetix, Inc. headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, announced  that it has been awarded a $28,763,141 Firm Fixed Prototype Project Agreement entitled “C4ISR/EW Modular Open Suite of Standards (CMOSS) Electronic Warfare, Offensive Cyber and SIGINT” through an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) with Consortium Management Group, Inc. (CMG) on behalf of Consortium for Command, Control and Communications in Cyberspace (C5).

 

The scope of this effort for the U.S. Army is development of a software-defined CMOSS Family-of-Systems for fixed site, mounted, and dismounted EW, Offensive Cyber, and SIGINT missions. These Army CMOSS Standard (and Air Force SOSA Standard) SDR systems will be adaptable to rapidly add capabilities to the field to combat evolving threats. Work will be performed in their California State and Washington State facilities. It is expected to be completed by Nov. 29, 2020.

 

Army’s Integrated Cyber and Electronic Warfare, or ICE, program

US Army has released document, titled FM 3-12 “Cyberspace and Electronic Warfare Operations,”  that “provides tactics and procedures for the coordination and integration of Army cyberspace and electronic warfare operations to support unified land operations and joint operations.”

 

US Army has disbanded its electronic warfare division, incorporating it EW division into a newly established cyber directorate at the Pentagon within the Army G-3/5/7, according to officials at Army headquarters. This is implementation of US Army’s  Cyber electromagnetic vision, defined as activities leveraged to seize, retain, and exploit an advantage over adversaries and enemies in both cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, while simultaneously denying and degrading adversary and enemy use of the same and protecting the mission command system.

 

The U.S. Army RDECOM CERDEC Integrated Cyber and Electronic Warfare, or ICE, program looks to leverage both cyber and Electronic Warfare capabilities as an integrated system to increase the commander’s situational awareness. CERDEC is focusing its science and technology efforts on researching solutions to address specific cyber and Electronic Warfare threats and developing the architecture onto which scientists and engineers can rapidly develop and integrate new more capable solutions.

 

“Currently, within cyber and EW disciplines there are different supporting force structures and users equipped with disparate tools, capabilities and frameworks,” said Paul Robb Jr., chief of CERDEC Intelligence and Information Warfare Directorate’s Cyber Technology Branch.

 

“Under the ICE program, we look to define common data contexts and software control mechanisms to allow these existing frameworks to communicate in a manner that would support the concurrent leveraging of available tactical capabilities based on which asset on the battlefield provides the best projected military outcome at a particular point in time,” said Robb.

 

The boundaries between traditional cyber threats, such as someone hacking a laptop through the Internet, and traditional EW threats, such as radio-controlled improvised explosive devices that use the electromagnetic spectrum, have blurred, allowing EW systems to access the data stream to combat EW threats, according to Giorgio Bertoli, senior engineer of CERDEC I2WD’s Cyber/Offensive Operations Division.

 

The Army document “FM 3-38 Cyber Electromagnetic Activities”, provides doctrinal guidance and conducting cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA) and the procedures and tactics for commanders and their staffs for planning, synchronizing and integrating CEMA.

 

Infantry Tests New Software To Coordinate Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities reported in Oct 2021

New software which allows commanders to automate the planning, coordination, and synchronization of Cyberspace Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) was recently tested by soldiers of 4th Infantry Division. CEMA is an Army initiative designed to provide tactical commanders with integrated cyberspace operations, Department of Defense Information Network operations, Electronic Attack, Electronic Protection, Electronic Warfare Support, Spectrum Management Operations, Intelligence, and Information Operations support/effects.

 

The Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT) integrates battlefield information and management of Electronic Warfare and Spectrum Management Operations (SMO) into a common operating environment.

 

“EWPMTs ability to visualize the electromagnetic operational environment and manage EW sensors provides Commanders a powerful tool that enables them to compete within the electromagnetic spectrum,” Warrant Officer Justin Dugan, EW Technician, said.

 

“As a planner, EWPMT enabled me to visualize my effects in the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS),” said 2SBCT’s CEMA Chief, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Cruz. “The modeling and simulation tools EWPMT provides enabled me to position Electromagnetic Warfare (EW) systems onto the optimal piece of terrain on the battlefield.”

 

US Army is also training in Cyber electromagnetic activities, Recently Personnel from the 25th Infantry Division and the 7th Signal Command Cyber Protection Brigade participated in a “Cyber Blitz” during the last two weeks of April at the Army Materiel Command’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, focusing on testing new operations concepts in realistic training scenarios, the Army said in a release.

 

 

US Army’s integrated EW and signals intelligence system

In December 2018, the US Department of Defense (DoD) announced the $982m R4 indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract and is now issuing individual task orders to top defence companies to support the US Army’s full spectrum of cyber electromagnetic activities (CEMA), under the new Terrestrial Layer Intelligence System (TLIS), which integrates the old Multi-Functional Electronic Warfare Ground and Dismounted (MFEW) system with its Signals Intelligence enterprise.

 

The Terrestrial Layer System (TLS) is an integrated EW and signals intelligence system for ground use that the Army decided to pursue instead of the old Multi-Functional Electronic Warfare Ground and Dismounted system. TLS, according to the slides, integrates signals intelligence, EW and cyber capabilities, which will be adaptable and tailored for Army tactical formations and continues technology innovation over the system’s lifecycle, securing an enduring competitive advantage. The Army asserts that the capabilities the electronic warfare and cyber enterprise were pursuing for MFEW Ground were nearly identical to what the signals intelligence enterprise was pursuing. Thus, they decided to integrate the capabilities.

 

According to briefing slides presented to industry during a Jan. 2019 industry day, made available on the FedBizOpps website, what’s really changed for the Army between previous plans and the new path it is charting is six-fold: urgent requirements from Europe and elsewhere to close capability gaps; three years of rapid prototyping; convergence of EW, signals intelligence, cyber and space; availability of national assets and advanced software capabilities from the intelligence community; a new national defense strategy that prioritizes near-peer competition; and approval for rapid EW force structure growth in the Army.

 

Initial design tenets for TLS must be expeditionary to support a maneuver unit, modular leveraging open architectures, software defined framework enabling rapid integration of signal libraries, automated machine learning reducing the soldier workload and rapid and agile.

 

In March 2019, the country signed an agreement worth $982m with Northrop Grumman to acquire state of art Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) capabilities for the US Army. The contract will support research and development for cyber and electronic warfare, integration, testing, performance verification, technical support, cybersecurity, and laboratory demonstrations.

 

Army plans to add electronic warfare (EW), SIGINT systems on brigade combat team armored combat vehicles

As part of what the Army calls new force design updates, every brigade combat team will have an EW platoon and a separate signals intelligence (SIGINT) network support team. Both of these formations will operate the forthcoming Terrestrial Layer System Brigade Combat Team (TLS-BCT) — the Army’s first integrated EW, SIGINT, and cyber platform — mounted on Stryker armored combat vehicles. Two companies, Lockheed Martin and Digital Receiver Technology, are building prototypes for the Army, which today lacks electronic attack assets organic to brigades.

 

US Army is not alone in looking for integrated EW-Cyber capabilities. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) is looking to expand its traditional electronic countermeasures capability to include the ability to carve into an enemy’s computer network from the air. Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)  also wants to integrate HPEM directed energy weapons with cyber warfare and traditional electronic warfare.

 

US Navy’s Integrated EM-Cyber environment

The U.S. Navy has embraced the electromagnetic (EM)-Cyber domain as a core warfighting domain, combining critical Navy communities in Information Warfare, Intelligence, Information Professional, Meteorology, Oceanography and Space Operations into an “Information Dominance” Corps.

 

“Adversaries are incorporating traditional electronic warfare (EW) threats such as jamming into cyber attacks and  signals intelligence (SIGINT) also is part of the overlapping effects of EW and cyber attacks, This is another factor changing Navy cyber operations,” said Vice Adm. Mike Gilday, USN, commander, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet. “In the future, we can’t just singularly think about how we’re going to fight in cyberspace or how we’re going to fight in the RF [radio frequency] spectrum or how we’re going to collect with SIGINT,” he warrants. “In the end, what we really need to do at both the tactical and operational level is to organize ourselves around these disciplines.”

 

He continues that the force still is organized in separate disciplines across the command structure. Instead, stovepipes must be broken down to create a cell comprising subject matter experts in communications, cyber, EW and intelligence. This cell would operate across the planning horizon spectrum, he states.

 

Marine Corps leaders have “been writing doctrine, we’ve been looking at our [doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities], writing concepts for [Marine Air-Ground Task Force, or MAGTF] electronic warfare and for cyber-electronic warfare coordination cells” throughout virtually every level of the service, according to Col. Gregory Breazile, director of the Marine Corps’ C2/Cyber and Electronic Warfare Integration Division.

 

“All the MAGTFs now have cyber-electronic warfare coordination cells, and the service also is transitioning some military operational specialties to reflect EW and unmanned vehicle skillsets,” Breazile said. “The EM-Cyber environment is now so fundamental to military operations and so critical to our national interests that we must start treating it as a warfighting domain on par with – or perhaps even more important than – land, sea, air, and space,” said Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations.

The U.S. Air Force Has Deployed One Of Its EC-130H Compass Call Electronic Warfare Aircraft To South Korea - The Aviationist

The EC-130H Compass Call is normally used to jam enemy radars and communications. However, in recent years it has been used to transmit computer code to wireless devices using radio frequencies

 

US Airforce demonstrates integrated EW and Cyber Capabilities

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) is looking to expand its traditional electronic countermeasures capability to include the ability to carve into an enemy’s computer network from the air. USAF Maj. Gen. Burke Wilson, announced this new electronic weapon at a recent Air Force Association conference, according to Breaking Defense. In a series of experiments, the US Air Force has successfully modified its EC-130 Compass Call aircraft, built to jam enemy transmissions, to instead be able to access and enemy networks.

 

What’s more, Wilson told reporters at the Air Force Association conference here, this flying wireless attack can “touch a network that in most cases might be closed” to traditional means, that means like many military networks which are deliberately disconnected from the Internet (“air-gapped”) for better security. “The focus over the last couple of years — [and] it’s really taken on a lot of momentum here over the last year — [is] integrating not just air capabilities, but air, space and cyberspace capabilities into the fight,” he said.

 

90th Information Operations Squadron demonstration

In 2014, the 90th Information Operations Squadron at JBSA-Lackland delivered effects from a cyberspace capability through an airborne platform.During the demonstration, cyberspace operators at JBSA-Lackland employed a cyber payload from their cyber platform through an airborne Compass Call flying from Davis-Monthan. Electronic warfare and cyberspace operators on the aircraft ensured that payload struck its target on the range in California.

 

“We are always looking to innovate and to find how we can better engage in future fights,” said Lt. Col. David Stone, 90th IOS commander. “Ultimately, it provides a chance to replace kinetic munitions with cyber payloads. We are finding ways that cyber capabilities can hit targets that are operationally relevant to combatant commanders.”

 

It was the first time that cyber operators openly practiced air-integrated cyber operations, according to Capt. Brian Belongia, cyber-attack flight commander in the 90th IOS. “We are using tools we already have to deliver packages in innovative ways,” said Belongia. These effects from cyberspace operations can be applied across different platforms and different wavelengths to fill a variety of requirements, according to Belongia. “We can tailor the waveform to different missions. We are trying to stay as flexible and modular as possible.”

 

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.”

 

Challenges

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.

 

CEMA Integration

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.
None of these capability components can be isolated from the others without compromising overall effectiveness. And to remain competitive, capability must be founded on the underpinning principles of open architectures and standards. Bringing these considerations together, is a challenge, but one that BAE Systems as a CEMA Integrator addresses.

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.

 

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