When I was asked to write a blog about Electronic Warfare, I thought that a simple definition of the topic would serve as an appropriate introduction to the subject. I looked to the U.S. Department of Defence; whose definition of Electronic Warfare (EW) is:
"Action involving the use of electromagnetic energy to determine, exploit, reduce or prevent hostile use of the electromagnetic spectrum, and action which retains friendly use of the electromagnetic spectrum."
For those who are intimately involved with EW, I am sure that is an excellent definition. BUT, what does it mean for the rest of us?
The average person has the same requirements as our Operational Commanders when it comes to the electromagnetic spectrum - we are all frustrated when we have no mobile phone coverage; we don’t want people hacking into our data; we don’t want the neighbour’s Wi-Fi jamming and degrading our own internet connections, and nobody wants to be the subject or victim of ‘Fake News’.
Fundamentally, an operational commander has the same imperatives - they want to know where the threats are, they want to degrade the enemy’s networks, whilst maintaining their own; they want to prevent Improvised Explosive Devices from detonating and as a last resort if all other exploitation of the electromagnetic environment has failed, they really want the missiles to miss!
'Owning the spectrum' has never been more important or more difficult.
The frequencies of interest in a military context now include all the commercial frequencies: radio, TV, mobiles, and Wi-Fi. Furthermore the military use higher frequencies normally associated with radars and lasers. Interestingly, the police also use these frequencies with their radar guns and laser detection systems!
If you hear the phrase “they want from DC to light” being muttered by frustrated EW engineers it is because in today’s battlespace we need EW systems that cover all of those frequencies.
BAE Systems Australia is in a unique position: we can provide EW capability and product in all of these areas for both the Australian and International Defence customers.
Our Technology Development Group has developed the world leading Mantlet digital ESM (electronic support measures). This sensor provides the ability to detect and identify nearly all radio frequency emitters; radio, TV, mobiles, Wi-Fi, radars and missiles – sensing problem solved! But what about jamming and deception?
With the recent addition of ‘Cuttlefish’ to our portfolio, we are maturing an electronic attack capability that has been in development since 2006. The Australian Government has allocated almost $40 million for research and development of this technology for the Australian Defence Force.
Pivotal to our development of this technology has been our collaboration with the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group. This underlines the need to work as an enterprise to ensure that our country receives full benefit from a healthy Defence Industry – Government, defence, industry and academia.
We have already shown the Australian Defence Force that we have the ability to 'fool' advanced radars - and no-one else can!
We continue to work with the DST Group on new detection capabilities using a chip developed in Australia by DST Group which detects single photons. This will give the Australian defence force a cutting edge electro optical detection capability - right at the forefront of technology.
BAE Systems has a world-leading EW technology capability that has accessible and exploitable paths to market. These indigenous capabilities ensure a sustainable future for this exciting segment of our Australian business - made possible because of the intellect, ingenuity and experience of a team of dedicated BAE Systems engineers.