Find a Security Clearance Job!


Electronic Combat Systems

Electronic Warfare includes any military action involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or to attack the enemy. The three major subdivisions within electronic warfare are electronic attack, electronic protection and electronic warfare support. Electronic Countermeasures [ECM] is the element of electronic warfare involving actions taken to prevent or reduce an enemy's effective use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Externally mounted reprogrammable jammers provide protection for combat aircraft against both ground and airborne radar threats.

Electronic warfare/target sensing systems (EW/TSS) are those systems that include smart weapons, munitions, sensors, and processors that rely on signature data, such as electronic intelligence (ELINT), measurement and signature intelligence (MASINT), and other signature parametrics to identify specific targets or events. With the increased fielding of EW/TSS within the Services, a coordinated, integrated and synchronized process for the reprogramming of EW/TSS during joint task force (JTF) operations must be identified to maximize the effectiveness of these systems. Moreover, today's military operational planners must address the application of EW/TSS reprogramming within the framework of command and control warfare (C2W).

EW/TSS reprogramming provides the means to respond to changes in threat signature characteristics or unique theater signal environments, enhancing the capability and survivability of the joint force. Threat parametric signature changes occurring during contingency or combat operations may require operational decisions to change tactics, bypass or avoid the threat, reprogram EW/TSS against the threat, or target the threat for physical destruction. Reprogramming of EW/TSS provides a timely means to respond to immediate threat changes and correct system deficiencies or mitigate the impact of the threat change.

The reprogramming process starts with the collection and processing of intelligence data, progresses through assessment and engineering phases, and results in the distribution and loading of updated software and, in some instances, hardware/firmware. Reprogramming is integrated into operational plans through EW mission planning and the weaponeering phase of the targeting process. While reprogramming is generally an EW function on the Service component level, close coordination and deconfliction among the Service components in a JTF is done through the joint commander's electronic warfare staff (JCEWS). The staff coordination process begins with the interaction between the operations and intelligence staff directorate at the JTF and component level, because a signature parametric change may be identified as a result of the intelligence process or from operational mission reports.

The Joint Command and Control Warfare Center (JC2WC) has reprogramming oversight responsibilities for the joint staff. Oversight responsibilities include requirements to organize, manage, and exercise joint aspects of EW reprogramming and facilitates the exchange of data used in joint EW reprogramming. Although actual reprogramming of equipment is a Service responsibility, the coordination or reprogramming at the joint/combined level must occur because of the similarities in EW equipment. The CINC/JTF EW officer is responsible for facilitating the exchange of reprogramming data among the components.

Aircraft survivability encompasses a vast array of disciplines. There is a tendency to think of Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) as the complete picture of aircraft survivability. ASE is only one portion of Electronic Warfare (EW) which supports information operations and information warfare. The Joint Chief of Staff MOP-6 changed the Army's EW terminology to reflect the unity of these functions.

Electronic Attack (formerly Electronic Countermeasures) is the division of EW involving the use of electromagnetic or directed energy to attack personnel, facilities, and equipment for the purpose of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying enemy combat capability. EA includes actions taken to prevent, or reduce, the enemy's effective use of the electromagnetic spectrum through jamming, destruction, and electromagnetic deception. EA also includes the employment of weapons using either electromagnetic or directed energy as the primary destructive mechanism. These weapons might include lasers, radio frequency, or particle beams. Finally, EA includes using sources of electromagnetic energy as the primary means of terminal weapons guidance to damage or destroy personnel, facilities, or equipment. ASE employed to defeat the EA systems include chaff, flares, radar jamming, and IR jamming.

Electronic Protection (formerly Electronic Counter-Countermeasures) is the division of EW involving actions taken to protect personnel, facilities, and equipment from the effects of friendly or enemy EW actions that may degrade, neutralize, or destroy friendly combat capability. To minimize their vulnerability to EA, EP should be considered for all battlefield systems deriving operational capabilities through the use of the electromagnetic spectrum. Included are optical, electronic, infrared, and radar target acquisition, non-cooperative target recognition systems, and smart weapons systems' sensors, fuses, guidance, and control components. ASE employed systems include antenna design, signature reduction, infrared absorbing paint, etc.

Electronic Support (formerly Electronic Support Measures) is the division of EW involving actions tasked by, or under the direct control of, an operational commander. The ES's responsibilities are to search for, intercept, identify, and locate sources of radiated electromagnetic energy for immediate threat recognition. ES is used in support of EW operations and other tactical actions, such as threat avoidance, homing, and targeting. ES focuses on surveillance of the electromagnetic spectrum in support of the commander's immediate decision making requirements for the employment of EW or other tactical actions, such as threat avoidance, targeting, or homing. ES is normally provided by organic intelligence and sensing devices based on EW technology integrated within other weapon systems, or assets from other echelons capable of providing combat information to the supported command. The purpose of ES is to ensure EA and EP applications receive the input needed to operate effectively. Examples of ES include, battlefield systems that execute direction finding operations, detecting and identifying enemy missions, or other electromagnetically-measured signatures that enable immediate exploitation, locating high value targets for electronic attack, or providing threat avoidance information. ASE systems include radar, laser, and infrared missile detecting sets.

Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD)

The Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) has borne the brunt of cutbacks with its loss of the EF-111, F-4G, and EA-6B ADVCAP. The loss of these assets or capabilities (for affordability reasons) constrains the warfighter's flexibility, but the warfighter will not be without a SEAD capability. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) investigated the non-lethal SEAD or support jamming area and concluded that the EA-6B, with the activation of additional aircraft, could perform the SEAD mission for both the US Air Force and the US Navy. Although there are performance differences between the EF-111 and EA-6B airframes (primarily range and endurance), EA-6B shortcomings can be ameliorated with proper mission planning and some additional support capabilities.

The retirement of the F-4G "Wild Weasel" has affected SEAD most. The lethal SEAD mission now rests solely on the shoulders of the F-16 Harm Targeting System (HTS). Although F-18s and EA-6Bs are HARM capable, the F-16 provides the ability to use the HARM in its most effective mode. The original concept called for teaming the F-15 Precision Direction Finding (PDF) and the F-16 HTS. Because this teaming concept is no longer feasible, the current approach calls for the improvement of the HTS capability. The improvement will come from the Joint Emitter Targeting System (JETS), which facilitates the use of HARM's most effective mode when launched from any JETS capable aircraft.

Electronic Combat Systems
Platform Installed EC System Configuration

U.S. Navy Aircraft

F/A-18C/D AN/ ALR-67AN/ALQ-126B
F-14A/B AN/ ALR-67AN/ALQ-126B
F-14D AN/ALR-67AN/ALQ-165
F-14D AN/ALQ-167 Pod
AV-8B AN/ ALR-67AN/ALQ-164
E-2C AN/ ALR-73

U.S. Air Force Aircraft

F-15C (MSIP) AN/ ALR-56CAN/ALQ-135 Bands 1,2 mod and 3
F-15A-D AN/ ALR-56A/C AN/ALQ-135 Bands 1,2 and 3
F-15E AN/ ALR-56CAN/ALQ-135D(v)
F-16A-D AN/ ALR-69AN/ALQ-131/ AN/ALQ-184 Pod
A-10A AN/ ALR-69AN/ALQ-131/ AN/ALQ-184 Pod
C-130E/H AN/ ALR-69AN/ALQ-131 Pod
HC-130P/N AN/ ALR-69AN/ALQ-131 Pod
C-17 AN/ALE-47
C-5 AN/ALE-47
B-1B AN/ ALQ-161

Join the mailing list