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DARPA CommEx developed cognitive radio technologies that maintain communications even under severe jamming environment

Russia, has displayed jamming and spoofing capabilities in the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Syria in the last several years. The use of Russian technology in these conflicts demonstrated that Russia retains advanced electronic warfare capabilities.

 

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. Russia has also deployed its most modern electronic warfare system to Syria – theKrasukha-4 (or Belladonna) mobile electronic warfare (EW) unit. 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.

 

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. US DOD  has launched many programs to counter adversary’s Electronic Warfare systems including 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 and Precision electronic attack.

 

Our adversaries not only are deploying new radar frequencies and waveforms that challenge U.S. jamming capabilities; they also are improving their own jammers and ability to disrupt U.S. military communications. To address that threat, DARPA under Communications Under Extreme RF Spectrum Conditions (CommEx) program has developed innovative technologies that support air-to-air communication in contested environments.

DARPA’s Communications Under Extreme RF Spectrum Conditions (CommEx)

Defense forces rely on electromagnetic dominance for command, control, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and related applications that use the electromagnetic spectrum. Similarly, spectrum use by our adversaries, and extensive unaffiliated commercial uses result in an increasingly congested, space, time and frequency environment. Severe pressure on available spectrum from all spectrum users creates a situation demanding significant adaptivity and flexibility of our communications systems to communicate successfully and achieve mission goals.

 

The Communications Under Extreme RF Spectrum Conditions (CommEx) program is developing signal detection and reasoning technology that allows radios to recognize interference and jamming, and adapt to maintain communications — even in the presence of severe and/or adaptive jamming and interference sources. CommEx is a fundamentally new approach to anti-jam, interference-resilient communications.

 

The technologies being developed under CommEx bring new approaches to detecting and characterizing interference properties and selecting mitigation strategies that will suppress the corresponding interference. Mitigation techniques may be used in combination to ensure resilience to changes in interference properties. CommEx utilizes uses advanced interference recognition, a broad multi-layer mitigation technique toolbox, and a cognitive strategy-optimization engine that dynamically configures the communications system to maintain operation in demanding environments. Currently, the CommEx technology is being implemented within the Link-16 radio architecture.

 

Core technologies for operation in highly dynamic and/or high jamming-to-signal environments are being developed to include: automated jamming waveform forensics; local environment assessment (time, space, frequency, polarization); technologies for addressing known attack strategies and interference properties; and antenna, signal processing, modulation, and network optimization technologies. Based on predictions of the level of communication success compared to mission communication requirements, the cognitive radio will choose mitigation techniques that best achieve mission objectives.

 

The cognitive radio will include the capability to analyze and select optimal frequency, waveform, and network configurations during all aspects of a mission. The design effort will lead to new radio communication architectures, more robust communications networking, and better understanding of optimization amongst interference-avoidance and interference-suppression strategies. This program will enable communication among distributed emitters and receivers to provide a capacity multiplier for both locating emitters and assessing the effectiveness of an electronic attack. Technologies developed in this program will transition to the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

 

CommEx’s technical objective is to develop innovative technologies that make best use of all available domains for adaptive interference suppression. This technology development phase will establish relevant technologies appropriate for the constraints and typical missions of various platforms.

 

BAE Systems  Applying Machine Learning to the Radio Frequency Spectrum under DARPA Contract

The Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA)  contracted BAE Systems to help develop the adaptive wireless communications architecture through the Communications Under Extreme RF Spectrum Conditions (CommEx) program.

 

BAE Systems signal processing and communications experts are using cognitive algorithms with novel interference mitigation techniques to better characterize the emerging threats and optimize the response in the anti-access area-denial (A2AD) environment. The new technology could equip tactical wireless networks.

 

BAE Systems first began working on the CommEx program in 2011. Then at the end of Phase 2 in 2015, the company successfully demonstrated how the complete, integrated architecture provides significant operational benefit in highly contested environments by demonstrating this capability on hardware in a laboratory environment. Now, under Phase 3, the company will port the previously implemented software and firmware to Department of Defense production-ready terminals and test and demonstrate the capability in a government lab in June 2016.

 

BAE Systems is developing adaptive wireless communications architecture to enable reliable communication in highly contested RF environments.The Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has contracted BAE Systems to help develop the adaptive wireless communications architecture through the Communications Under Extreme RF Spectrum Conditions (CommEx) program.

 

BAE Systems signal processing and communications experts are using cognitive algorithms with novel interference mitigation techniques to better characterize the emerging threats and optimize the response in the anti-access area-denial (A2AD) environment.  The new technology could equip tactical wireless networks.

 

References and resources  also include:

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