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Electronic warfare (EW)

Electronic warfare (EW) includes any military action involving the use of EM and directed-energy (DE) to control the EM spectrum or attack an enemy. There are three major categories of EW: electronic attack, electronic support, and electronic protection. Military operations are executed in an increasingly complex electromagnetic environment. Today, electromagnetic devices are used by both civilian and military organizations for communications, navigation, sensing, information storage, and processing as well as a variety of other purposes. The increasing portability and affordability of such sophisticated equipment guarantee that these capabilities will end up as a major influence on any future battlefield.

Also called Electronic Support [ES], electronic warfare involving actions tasked by, or under direct control of, an operational commander to search for, intercept, identify, and locate sources of intentional and unintentional radiated electromagnetic energy for the purpose of immediate threat recognition. Thus, electronic warfare support provides information required for immediate decisions involving electronic warfare operations and other tactical actions such as threat avoidance, targeting, and homing. Electronic warfare support data can be used to produce signals intelligence (SIGINT), communications intelligence (COMINT) and electronics intelligence (ELINT).

Design of EW systems often demands detailed support intelligence regarding the characteristics of the system being attacked. To the extent that this requires disclosure of threat intelligence, international cooperation is impeded. This is especially important in the traditional EW areas of jamming, electronic support, and electronic protection. There are, however, several areas of technology of a more general dual-use nature, including high-power microwave (HPM) tubes and lasers in which there are significant foreign capabilities and opportunities. The following paragraphs provide additional information for each technology subarea.

Electronic attack involves the use of EM or DE to attack personnel, facilities, or equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing, or destroying enemy combat capability. Areas of interest include suppression of enemy air defense, fusion and data integration algorithms, communications countermeasures for UAVs, jamming of mobile and digital radio systems, and deception against advanced surveillance, acquisition, and fire control radars. Technical challenges include development of wide area distributed databases, advanced antennas, precision targeting in the low GHz range, and signal recognition, demodulation, and electronic countermeasures (ECM) waveforms against commercial grade high capacity cellular and satellite transceivers.

Research in this area may require sharing of sensitive threat information. Exchange of data on system characteristics, vulnerabilities, and weapon effectiveness are generally needed to develop effective requirements and system specifications for this type of EW. For this reason, all cooperative efforts involving electronic attack must be carefully handled on a case-by-case basis, and no technological areas of special interest are identified in this summary.

Electronic support includes actions taken to search, intercept, identify, and locate sources of radiated EM energy for threat recognition in support of EW operations and other tactical actions, such as threat avoidance, homing, and targeting. Technologies to intercept, direction-find, and locate current and emerging hostile emitters are critical for targeting and tactical situation awareness. Next-generation electronic support measures (ESM) processors must offer improved emitter identification, deinterleaving techniques, direction-finding/geolocation algorithms, multipath suppression techniques, and increased capabilities in the super high frequency region. Continued development of correlation and templating, automated tracking, cross-queuing, and situation display tools are also important. Technical challenges include the integration of ceramic phase shifters into phased-array antennas, application specific integrated circuits for fast Fourier transform processing, and tools and techniques for tasking and reporting from multi-intelligence sensor platforms.

This is an area that may require sharing of sensitive threat information, system characteristics, and vulnerabilities. All cooperative efforts involving electronic support must be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Electronic protection includes actions taken to protect personnel, facilities, or equipment against EW that might degrade, neutralize, or destroy combat capability. Sensor and countermeasure technologies are essential elements in the complex battle that pits defensive EW systems against the enemy's offensive systems. On the modern battlefield, this is an encounter in which a timespan of 1 or 2 seconds can mean the difference between winning or losing. Advanced technology is critical in providing the winning edge in performance. Technical goals include development of multifunction and multispectral IR countermeasures (IRCM), radar and laser warning, and real-time situational awareness. Technology challenges include development of uncooled, low false alarm rate detectors, multicolor IR FPAs, missile detection algorithms, and more efficient, low-cost, and temperature-stable IR/ultraviolet (UV) filters. Development of high-speed wideband digital receivers based on GaAs technologies will also play a key role in electronic protection, as will development of high-power ultra-wideband (UWB) jamming modulators and transmitters.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:42:54 ZULU