Chapter 13 Electronic Combat
The OPFOR is keenly aware of the dependence of modern military forces on communications that support command and control (C2) and intelligence. Effective communications contribute to sound C2; the loss of communications is the loss of C2. The loss of C2 in combat ultimately ends in defeat. The OPFOR therefore seeks to control the electromagnetic spectrum and deny its use to its enemy during combat actions, while retaining its own capabilities.
To support this the OPFOR has actively developed systems and techniques to degrade the C2 assets of enemy forces. It has also taken measures to provide secure, dependable communications, information collection, and information processing for its own forces. The OPFOR has combined these capabilities with detailed, integrated planning to form the integrated doctrine of electronic combat (EC).
EC consists of the use of all means of manipulation of electronic emissions throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. These means constitute the five components of EC: signals reconnaissance, electronic jamming, electronic protection measures (EPM), destruction, and electronic counterreconnaissance. (See the Components section in this chapter for further detail.) The purpose of EC is to--
- Disorganize enemy C2.
- Suppress, capture, or destroy enemy C2 systems.
- Detect enemy electronic systems.
- Degrade enemy intelligence and equipment.
- Protect OPFOR electronic assets.
EC is the primary contributor to the conduct of information warfare (IW) during combat operations, supporting to various degrees all six elements of IW.
Integration and Planning
Integration and planning are critical to the overall success of EC. The OPFOR planning process stresses close coordination among the reconnaissance, EC, and combat planners. This is to ensure the supported combat units receive massed jamming and other resources at the critical times and places. It also ensures that a more complete interruption of enemy electronic control occurs through the combination of jamming with physical destruction.
The OPFOR accepts that it is not possible to completely deprive enemy forces of their means of control for extended periods of time. It also recognizes the value in exploiting enemy communications for their intelligence value until a time when their disruption can most influence the course of action. If destruction is not feasible at that critical time, the net is jammed. Even a few minutes of disruption, if properly timed, are immensely valuable.
Therefore, OPFOR EC planners have established models to estimate critical times in the enemy C2 process. These critical times are the total time needed to complete the following C2 steps:
- Collection and reporting of data.
- Evaluation and decision.
- Issuance of orders and preparation.
- Completion of action.
The OPFOR assigns enemy C2, communications, computer, and intelligence nets a priority based on the expected impact on the battle at the time the OPFOR targets them. It selects targets with the intention of disrupting them either by physical destruction or by jamming. Although EC target priorities depend on the command level and can change as the combat situation develops, they generally are as follows:
- Precision weapons systems and NBC delivery means.
- C2 systems.
- Conventional artillery, tactical aviation, and air defense systems.
- Intelligence collection systems (including radar stations).
- Engaged maneuver units.
- Logistics centers.
- Point targets that jeopardize advancing forces.
The OPFOR has developed state-of-the-art EC systems specifically for military use. However, it can also take advantage of a wide variety of extremely capable off-the-shelf systems commercially available at relatively low cost. Together, these systems are capable of providing the level of electronic intercept, direction-finding (DF), or jamming sophistication required on the modern battlefield.
The OPFOR also has modernized those systems that can disrupt enemy communications and electronics through deception. Where practical, the OPFOR mounts EC systems it uses at the tactical and lower operational level on tracked vehicles to match the mobility of the maneuver units they support. It integrates this equipment into signals reconnaissance and jamming units that support combined arms combat.1
The EC assets of the OPFOR's ground forces are found primarily within a number of signals reconnaissance and jamming units. While some of these EC assets exist at the tactical level, the following paragraphs focus on the assets available at the operational level.
An army group can have one or two signals reconnaissance brigades, and may have a jamming regiment or battalion. A signals reconnaissance brigade consists of a radio intercept battalion, a radio DF battalion, and a radar intercept and DF battalion. In lieu of a second signals reconnaissance brigade, an army group may have a signals reconnaissance regiment or separate battalion of the types found at army level. Assets from these units typically deploy where they can best support the operations of a subordinate army or corps conducting the main effort in the offense or defense, as well as supporting army group-level taskings.
The jamming regiment has three battalions of like composition. Each battalion has a mix of VHF and HF jammers, along with the intercept and DF assets that provide targeting support. The battalion also includes fuze jammers that deploy to protect high-value assets from artillery proximity-fuzed munitions. Some army groups might have only a single jamming battalion instead of an entire regiment.
An army group typically includes an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) regiment with three UAV squadrons. The multimission UAVs are capable of carrying signals reconnaissance or jamming payloads, as well as other sensors that provide targeting for artillery, surface-to-surface missiles (SSMs), or army group aviation.
The army group may allocate all or part of the three UAV squadrons to support operations of an army or corps in the army group's main effort. The remaining UAV assets support army group-level targeting.
Compared to other airborne EC systems, UAV-borne systems have the main advantage of being able to get in close to the intended target with a relatively low-cost platform and minimal risk to the operator. Thus, UAVs provide high levels of payoff in terms of intelligence and targeting.
An entire small UAV system (including aircraft, ground control station, launcher, and payloads) costs a fraction of what a large airborne standoff jamming (SOJ) platform can cost. Nevertheless, due to the proximity of the UAV-borne jammer to its intended target, it could in some instances deliver a higher level of jamming energy on the target than a high-power SOJ system. One drawback is that the small payload capacity of most UAVs precludes mounting jammers capable of covering the entire radio frequency range of interest. This means that a particular UAV-borne jammer usually can attack only one type of target. The limited jamming range of the UAV-borne system generally requires a high level of reconnaissance support to ensure that the UAV flight path takes it close enough to the target.
An army group also can have an air defense jamming regiment, with two to four battalions. Normal practice is to allocate an air defense jamming battalion to each army or corps in the main effort. The remaining battalion(s) protect high-priority army group assets. The battalions employ a variety of radar and communications jamming and target acquisition systems that target the onboard emitters of enemy aircraft. Electronic intercept systems provide targeting information to the radar jammers. This jamming capability supports the OPFOR's own air operations as well as improving the air defense of high-value assets. (For more detail on EC support to air defense, see Chapter 11.)
As with the army group, subordinate levels of command have a mix of signals reconnaissance and jamming systems. An army can have one to two signals reconnaissance battalions. In lieu of these separate battalions, a high priority army may have a signals reconnaissance regiment, composed of three such battalions. These units differ from the battalions of the signals reconnaissance brigade in that they each include a mix of intercept and DF systems. The army can also have a jamming regiment or battalion of the same type found in the army group.
A corps can have a signals reconnaissance battalion and/or a jamming battalion. These battalions, if present, have the same structure as those found at the army level.
The signals reconnaissance battalions at corps and army normally have a higher proportion of VHF intercept and DF systems in relation to HF, whereas HF composes a greater proportion of systems at army group level.
The Air Force has airborne assets that support the EC mission. It can employ airborne platforms in either an escort or a stand-off jamming role. The escort jammers provide protection to aircraft conducting a strike on targets in enemy territory. The SOJ platforms remain well behind the OPFOR's forward edge to avoid loss of these high-value assets and crews.
The use of an airborne platform can greatly enhance the effectiveness of both intercept and jamming, particularly of radio relay. These systems offer the advantages of greatly increased range, mission flexibility, mobility, and brute jamming power.
The reconnaissance aviation regiment of the army group's air army provides a wide variety of sensor packages on its fixed-wing aircraft. This regiment has up to three squadrons of high-performance reconnaissance aircraft, some of which are available in EC configurations.
An air army may also have substantial jamming capabilities in an airborne jamming aviation regiment and a heliborne jamming squadron. The regiment has two squadrons equipped with high-performance fixed-wing jamming platforms. The heliborne squadron has two to three flights, with a mix of heliborne jamming platforms.
A separate helicopter squadron with one heliborne jamming flight may also be organic to the air army, as well as to an army or corps. This flight consists of four to six heliborne platforms.
Space-based warning, surveillance, navigation, and meteorological systems provide substantial benefits to the military commander. Aside from its own satellites, the OPFOR has access to many of these capabilities from other countries through ground stations or commercial firms. Radar reconnaissance satellites can lock onto intercepted signals to provide target location information. The OPFOR also has large-area radar surveillance satellites in its inventory.
EC activities targeting space-based systems involve a much greater degree of technical difficulty. The accuracy to which the OPFOR can determine the precise location of a space object plays a vital role in the employment of antisatellite jamming. Communications jammers designed to jam satellite uplinks or intersatellite links require accurate satellite location information.
The OPFOR could employ several methods to obtain satellite tracking information. Of these, some require little or no technical expertise. A large amount of satellite tracking data is available through computer bulletin board services or directly from several publications. The OPFOR and a second party could transfer satellite tracking information as part of an intelligence-sharing agreement. Finally, active and passive sensors are available, such as radars, optics, and passive detection equipment.
The OPFOR is continuing to expand its use of satellite communications in support of military operations. Space-based communications provide a more secure means of C2 than ground-based systems, significantly contributing to protecting the OPFOR's use of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Essential to the success of OPFOR EC is the collection of accurate and timely information. OPFOR reconnaissance attempts to develop an accurate picture of the enemy's electronic order of battle, together with equipment types, emission characteristics, operating procedures, and operator characteristics. In addition to EC-dedicated systems, all reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition assets at the various command levels feed the information-gathering and analysis process that supports EC. Signals reconnaissance provides the primary means of locating targets of specific interest to the EC effort. One of the most valuable assets for confirming EC targets remains ground reconnaissance forces. The OPFOR obtains some technical information concerning enemy electronic equipment from open-source material, such as technical manuals and field manuals.
Identification and location of enemy electronic emissions and understanding their nature and use are key to countering and exploiting them. Signals reconnaissance is the sum of all means used in this collection and analysis. In the OPFOR, signals reconnaissance is the mission of--
- Airborne signals reconnaissance assets of the Air Force.
- Signals reconnaissance units at army group, army, corps, and division levels.
- Signals reconnaissance assets of the ground forces' jamming units.
The OPFOR expects to identify targets not only by DF, but also through signals analysis. For the latter, it plans to exploit lax enemy communications security and poor electronic counter-countermeasures. Specialists perform technical analysis to identify high-priority targets. In accordance with the EC plan, specialists target emitters for destruction, jamming, signals exploitation, or deception. Because signals reconnaissance systems only locate electronic emitters, not necessarily units, the OPFOR attempts to avoid enemy deception efforts by using other reconnaissance means for confirmation.
When signals reconnaissance units support a specific brigade or higher organization, an EC liaison representative augments the organization's main command post. He passes targeting information required for physical destruction through the supported unit's chief of reconnaissance.
The OPFOR has the ground-based capability to intercept and DF enemy emitters within the following distances from the forward edge of friendly troops:
- Artillery ground radar--about 25 km.
- VHF communications--about 40 km.
- HF groundwave--about 80 km.
- HF skywave--unlimited.
Greatly extended ranges are possible when mounting intercept and DF systems on airborne platforms, as well as when ground-based systems are targeting airborne emitters.
The fielding of radio communications systems employing spread-spectrum modulation techniques greatly complicates OPFOR signals reconnaissance efforts. Even when not coupled with encryption systems, these systems provide a significant electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) capability, with the potential for truly low probability of intercept and increased resistance to jamming. However, the OPFOR has developed a few high-technology EC systems designed to perform DF on these radios.
The purpose of DF is to locate transmitting enemy radio and radar emitters. The OPFOR DF ranges are equivalent to that for intercept. The OPFOR uses DF to--
- Provide approximate locations of enemy electronic emitters.
- Provide locations that, when applied with intercept, terrain analysis, or other means, have sufficient accuracy to target with artillery fires.
- Develop a "picture" of the battlefield to reveal enemy unit locations and intentions.
- Provide adequate locations for firing on most radars and jammers.
Because of the length of transmission, the peculiarity of their signal characteristics, and power output, it is easy to locate jammers and identify them as targets for attack by suppressive fires. Due to a radar's unique signal parameters, DF can locate radars with greater precision than it can for radio emitters, often within 50 to 200 m.
It is possible to evaluate information from DF resources quickly, but this usually requires further confirmation by other sources. DF targets within conventional artillery range receive priority. Among these, targets that are time-sensitive and considered a serious threat receive priority and are candidates for immediate engagement.
With the OPFOR's older systems, if an enemy emitter remains active for at least 25 seconds, the targeting sequence can continue even after emissions cease. Newer systems are shortening the timelines considerably.
The signals reconnaissance priorities correspond to the maneuver commander's EC information requirements. Priorities for intercept and DF are similar in both the offense and the defense, though they vary by phase.
Communications intercept and DF priorities include--
- Reconnaissance C2 nets.
- Fire support nets.
- Air defense nets.
- Maneuver force C2 nets.
- Electronic warfare nets.
- NBC-related communications.
- Engineer nets.
Radar intercept and DF priorities include--
- Radar jammers.
- Ground and battlefield surveillance radars.
- Target acquisition radars.
- Countermortar and counterbattery radars.
- Air defense radars.
In the offense, signals reconnaissance assets normally locate with the organization conducting the main attack, as far forward as possible. The unit commander coordinates with the chief of reconnaissance to ensure continuous coverage of the most critical sections of the battlefield. The signals reconnaissance unit commander and his staff select alternate positions for the signals reconnaissance assets that have line-of-sight (LOS) along the avenue of approach. This enables the assets to leapfrog forward in support of the battle.
In the defense, the unit commander coordinates positioning of his signals reconnaissance assets with the chief of reconnaissance. Initially, many of the assets supporting tactical and operational missions may locate within the security zone, behind the security-zone forces in their initial positions. The depth to which the OPFOR deploys these assets depends on the terrain and disposition of forces in the security zone. As security-zone forces fall back to their successive positions, signals reconnaissance assets fall back to previously reconnoitered positions offering good LOS. If deployed within the main defensive zone, assets take up position behinds the first-echelon battalions of the first-echelon brigades. They choose terrain offering good LOS and reposition frequently to avoid enemy EC activities and subsequent destructive fires.
A major part of EC is the requirement to jam, at critical times, enemy C2 and weapon system voice and data communications that the OPFOR cannot destroy by firepower. All types of emitters are vulnerable to both jamming and deception. The jamming mission belongs to the airborne jamming assets of the Air Force, ground-based radar jammers, and ground forces' jamming units.
Jamming secure voice and data communications may force the enemy to transmit in the clear, which allows exploitation of combat information. Jamming can also aid in DF by forcing the enemy to transmit longer, allowing time for tip-off and multiple fixes. When not dedicated to a jamming mission, jammers may assist in signals reconnaissance. Jammers may also support EPM by providing a jamming shield to protect OPFOR communications from enemy electronic warfare efforts. To accomplish this, jammers emit jamming signals on those frequencies the OPFOR wishes to use. Due to considerations of signal geometry and strength, the jammers do not affect OPFOR communications, but do affect the enemy's signals reconnaissance receivers.
The primary OPFOR methods of jamming are--
- Radar jamming by using barrage, sweep, and spot noise, pulse, chaff, and decoys.
- Pulse and simulation jamming of command guidance systems.
- Radio jamming of AM and FM signals using barrage, sweep, or spot noise.
The OPFOR can supplement the radio jamming capability of its operational-level ground forces with assets allocated down from national level. These may include a considerable number of airborne radio-jamming and ground-based and airborne radar-jamming sets. Aircraft and air defense units have jammers that attempt to disrupt enemy target acquisition radars, weapon guidance systems, or aircraft navigation aids. Aircraft also may have some deceptive transmitters, mainly to project false locations to enemy air defense systems. The OPFOR continues to modernize its radar jamming assets in response to enemy advances in radar technology. This effort emphasizes the OPFOR intentions to disrupt enemy ground and airborne radars and support its own air activities and air defense of high-value rear area targets.
A number of technical factors govern jamming effectiveness. These factors include--
- Target link distance (distance between the enemy transmitter and receiver).
- The distance between the jammer and the enemy receiver.
- Radio LOS between the jammer and the targeted receiver.
- Antenna polarization.
- Effective radiated power of the jammer and the enemy transmitter.
- Weather, terrain, and vegetation.
The most important of these are the distances of the target receiver from the jammer and from the transmitter.
Radios utilizing spread-spectrum modulations reduce the impact of conventional jammers. The effectiveness of jamming against these radios varies, depending upon the type of jamming employed. Options include narrow-band, partial-, or full-band jamming.
Priorities for jamming vary with the operational or tactical situation. The following are general guidelines for initial priorities:
- Attack enemy communications and command guidance systems for artillery, rocket, and SSM forces.
- Disrupt enemy communications, target acquisition, and guidance systems for air defense forces.
- Jam enemy critical C2 links.
- Protect friendly C2 systems.
The OPFOR carefully coordinates its jamming activities with the signal officers at each level of command. The primary intent is to minimize, or preferably, avoid the accidental disruption of friendly systems.
The enemy also considers jammers priority targets for destruction. Because of their high power and unique electronic signature, they are relatively easy to detect and locate. The majority of ground-based jammers must deploy within the range of indirect fire weapons, and are highly susceptible to damage. Taken together, these factors dictate the OPFOR must thoroughly plan and execute jammer deployment for their survival.
Jammers must be mobile to both survive and maintain favorable transmission paths against enemy emitters that are moving as the operation progresses. A fluid, high-tempo operation requires the jammers to displace frequently. The OPFOR preselects primary and alternate sites for each phase of the operation. These sites must--
- Be accessible and concealed from enemy direct fire weapons.
- Provide for continuity of mission.
- Facilitate electronic massing of several jammers against priority targets.
- Facilitate communications.
In the offense, jamming assets normally deploy slightly behind the forward maneuver units. Jammers positioned near the forward edge selectively jam critical communications links, normally using barrage and spot noise or pulse signals. The priority of support is to support the units conducting the main effort.
In the defense, jamming assets normally locate in the security zone and in the main defensive zone behind the first-echelon battalions of the first-echelon brigades. They select terrain offering good LOS and reposition frequently. In the security zone, priority is to disrupt enemy reconnaissance nets. As the enemy approaches the main defensive zone, priorities shift to divisional and brigade-level fire support and maneuver nets, in that order. Deployment of jamming assets would orient on those areas projected to be the enemy's main effort.
Electronic Protection Measures
Electronic protection measures (EPM) are any active or passive procedures to protect the friendly use of electronic systems. OPFOR commanders try to enforce a high level of EPM consciousness in their subordinates and equipment operators.
The OPFOR objective for EPM is the satisfactory operation of its electronic equipment in the face of enemy disruption efforts. EPM are the responsibility of every soldier who uses or supervises the use of radios, radars, or other electronic emitters.
The OPFOR achieves its EPM objectives through strict enforcement of signals security, equipment redundancy, system design, operator skill, and alternate methods of communication. It places emphasis on individual and organizational field-expedient techniques. Operator EPM training occurs at all organizational levels. The OPFOR practices major moves while in conditions of radio silence or even total electronic silence. Its use of battle drills lessens its dependence on extensive radio orders in the attack.
The OPFOR employs alternate passive EPM, such as wire, visual methods (such as flags or flares), messengers, and manual encryption. The OPFOR is also expanding its employment of secure communications devices. It practices false positioning of different types of emitters and establishes dummy nets for deception purposes. The OPFOR may protect its communications from enemy electronic warfare by using a jamming screen.
Physical destruction is integral to OPFOR electronic combat doctrine. It is the preferred method of disrupting enemy communications and radars. Even a small raid or harassing fires on a headquarters can interrupt the enemy planning cycle.
Critical C2 nodes, air defense radars, satellite terminals, and enemy electronic warfare assets are priority targets. The OPFOR can physically attack in three ways:
- Indirect fire. This includes artillery, mortars, rockets, and SSMs.
- Ground attack. While fighting in the enemy's rear, the OPFOR may attempt to destroy C2 and communications elements by using tank or mechanized infantry, special-purpose, airborne or heliborne forces as raiding or enveloping detachments.
- Air attack. The OPFOR may attack with high-performance aircraft or helicopters. Ground forces may plant a transmitter within the enemy perimeter for beacon bombing.
Compared with other methods of disruption, physical destruction provides the longest-lasting effects, as the enemy must reconstitute its control. The effects of jamming last only as long as the jamming does, or until the enemy employs some form of ECCM, such as changing frequency or increasing signal power levels. The effects of deception, while potentially the greatest, are the most difficult to successfully achieve. Often, only well after the outcome of an operation are their effects known.
The OPFOR attempts to limit the enemy's use of the electromagnetic spectrum to gather critical intelligence information required to accurately estimate OPFOR unit strengths, composition, and activities. The goal is to disrupt the enemy's control process by either denying critical information, or by feeding false information into the enemy's information systems.
All enemy sensor types are potential targets for deception operations supporting the counterreconnaissance effort. False radio nets, dummy command posts, deception jammers, and even radar corner reflectors all contribute to providing a false or misleading picture of OPFOR capabilities and intentions. Targets include ground-based and airborne signals reconnaissance platforms, and radar surveillance systems.
Deception in EC is part of the OPFOR's overall deception efforts. The OPFOR is responding to the challenge posed by advances in enemy sensors and weapons by emphasizing the use of camouflage, concealment, and deception.
Regulations require planning for deception activities in all combat actions. The OPFOR seeks to confuse the enemy to the extent where the enemy is unable to distinguish between real and decoy targets, units, and activities. It believes that this can cause the enemy to come to false conclusions about OPFOR intent, deployments, and troop movements.
The OPFOR employs several components of deception simultaneously for maximum effectiveness. In this multidisciplined approach, no aspect lends itself more to use of deception than interference with enemy communications. The purpose of electronic deception is to cause misinterpretations of intent, disruptions, and delays. Electronic deception is normally part of an overall deception plan. This ensures that what the enemy collects electronically agrees with, or at least does not refute, the indicators presented by other deception means.
The OPFOR seldom, if ever, uses electronic deception alone. Electronic deception normally consists of manipulative, simulative, and imitative deception. The OPFOR may use one or all of these types of electronic deception in its deception activities.
The OPFOR is continuing the development and fielding of dedicated tactical non-communications means of deception. It practices extensive use of dummy positions, using field-expedient materials. It simulates troop movements by such means as use of civilian vehicles to portray movement to radar, and marching refugees to portray movement of troops in the rear. Simple, inexpensive radar corner reflectors provide masking by approximating the radar cross sections of military targets such as bridges, tanks, aircraft, and even navigational reference points. Corner reflectors can be quite effective when used in conjunction with other EC systems, such as ground-based air defense jammers.
Manipulative Electronic Deception
The OPFOR uses manipulative electronic deception to counter enemy electronic warfare and collection efforts by altering the electromagnetic profile of friendly forces. Specialists modify the technical characteristics and profiles of emitters that could provide an accurate picture of friendly intentions. The objective is to have enemy analysts accept the profile or information as valid and therefore arrive at an erroneous conclusion concerning friendly activities and intentions.
Simulative Electronic Deception
Simulative electronic deception seeks to mislead the enemy as to the actual composition, deployment, and capabilities of the friendly force. The OPFOR may use controlled breaches of security to add credence to its simulative electronic deception activities. There are a number of techniques the OPFOR uses.
With unit simulation, the OPFOR establishes a network of radio and radar emitters to emulate those emitters and activities found in the specific type unit or activity. The OPFOR may reference the false unit designator in communications traffic and may use false unit callsigns.
With capability simulation, the OPFOR projects an electronic signature of new or differing equipment to mislead the enemy into believing that a new capability is in use on the battlefield. To add realism and improve the effectiveness of the deception, the OPFOR may make references to "new" equipment designators on other or related communications nets.
To provide a false unit location, the OPFOR projects an electronic signature of a unit from a false location while suppressing the signature from the actual location. Radio operators may make references to false map locations near the false unit location, such as hill numbers, a road junction, or a river. This would be in accordance with a script as part of the deception.
Imitative Electronic Deception
Imitative electronic deception injects false or misleading information into enemy radio and radar communications networks. The communications imitator gains entry as a bona fide member of the enemy communication system and maintains that role until he passes the desired false information to the enemy.
The OPFOR exercises extreme care in entering the enemy communications system because each emitter produces its own signature. Most techniques require extensive technical support and specially trained operators.
The modern battlefield contains a variety of target acquisition, surveillance, and electronic radars. Each class of equipment produces an individual signature. The OPFOR uses repeaters, transponders, and reflectors that substitute an altered or generated-signal in imitation of the radar's normal return echo to deceive it. Successful deception requires a much better understanding of the technical characteristics of the enemy radar than that required for jamming.
1 In addition, the potential exists for the use of the high-powered, fixed broadcast facilities located throughout the State to disrupt enemy strategic communications in the HF and lower radio frequency bands.
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