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Newsroom

New handheld cognitive electronic warfare technology headed for DARPA

Artist rendition of CLASS technology
Our handheld electronic warfare technology can quickly detect and identify multiple interfering signals, such as jammers or enemy communication signals.

Through a contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), BAE Systems has developed a new lightweight, handheld tactical sensor that soldiers can easily carry and use to better understand radio frequency (RF) signals for enhanced situational awareness.

By using cognitive processing algorithms, this handheld electronic warfare (EW) technology can quickly detect and identify multiple interfering signals, such as jammers or enemy communication signals, across a wide spectrum and in changing and challenging environments. The new capability can be leveraged across multiple platforms and can integrate, for example, into a variety of EW, SIGINT, and signal receiver and communication systems, both large and small.

“By drastically reducing the size, weight, and power of this new cognitive EW system, we’re making it easier for our warfighters to be aware of, classify, and manage a wide range of signals in the battlespace, which is crucial for tactical situational awareness,” said Joshua Niedzwiecki, director of Sensor Processing and Exploitation at BAE Systems. “Better situational awareness on the battlefield means superior protection for our troops and a greater ability to defeat hostile threats.”

The technology was developed under DARPA’s Computational Leverage Against Surveillance Systems (CLASS) program and the Cognitive radio Low-energy signal Analysis Sensor ICs (CLASIC) program. This new handheld EW capability improves on today’s portable spectrum analysers, which are often bulky, power hungry, and unable to handle interference or classify the signals they detect. Using advanced signal processing algorithms, BAE Systems radically reduced the time and the computing power needed to process detected signals to such an extent that the new system uses only one low-power chip. The result is a 10-times reduction in size, weight, and power compared to conventional spectrum analysers.

During recent field tests, the new technology successfully detected and identified more than 10 signal types across a wide bandwidth in the presence of interference. The company expects to continue to mature this technology for eventual deployment within its EW, SIGINT, and tactical communications portfolios.

Ref. No. 126/2016