The RC-135V/W
The RC-135V/W (the interior of a USAF version is picture here), continues to play an important role in SIGINT and ELINT collection in the Iraqi and Syrian theatres. (USAF)

The events of the last twelve months in the theatres discussed above underscore the reality that the electromagnetic spectrum, in which friendly and hostile radars and communications operate, is a domain of warfare in its own right, as much as the oceans, the ground and the skies.

Increasingly, this branch of warfare also includes the cyber domain, highly reliant as it is on digital communications. Larry Rexford, electronic warfare strategic development and marketing manager at Rockwell Collins, and an electronic warfare practitioner with over three decades of experience, sees EW in a holistic fashion: “While EW is often associated with the air, land and maritime warfighting domains and is tightly coupled to specific platforms, it actually operates within a distinct/different warfighting domain, the electromagnetic spectrum.” What this means for air operations is that controlling and dominating the EMS is essential for both air superiority, via the degradation, damage and destruction (‘jamming’) of opposing radar and communications, and also to support air power’s capability to influence the battle on the ground or at sea. “My view is that the EMS is the warfighting domain, EW is a means to conduct warfare within the EMS, signals within the EMS (both friendly and hostile) are potential targets,” says Mr. Rexford. “To achieve effects within the EMS you need capabilities to detect, degrade, deny, disrupt, destroy and exploit signals of interest, while, at the same time, protecting the spectrum for your use.”

The cyber domain
The cyber domain will be increasingly important to the execution of electronic warfare in the future, given the importance that air command and control systems place on computerisation. (USAF)

Reflecting on recent operations, Mr. Rexford argues that during the ongoing Ukrainian civil war, the Russian armed forces were able to deny the use of the EMS to the Ukrainian armed forces, during the latter’s military operations supporting pro-Russian separatists fighting the Kiev government, while ensuring that Russia’s use of the EMS remained largely protected. “As a result, the pace of Russian decision making/military operations was far superior to the Ukrainian ability to respond, similar to effect achieved during the German blitzkrieg (Lightning War through the Low Countries into France, through the combination of auftrakstaktik (mission tactics) and mechanized warfare … It is clear that the Russians not only integrated EW into their offensive planning, but that they trained in an EW environment. Conversely, the Ukrainian military forces did not possess robust EW capabilities, nor were they ready to operate in an EMS-denied environment.”

Petter Bedoire, head of marketing at Saab’s EW business unit makes similar observations. He states that, for “the last ten years, there has been a lot of focus (within the air power community) on international operations and asymmetrical warfare (notably US-led military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq). In those environments air superiority has been a pre-requisite, the focus being on protection against MANPADS and other types of rather unsophisticated ground-based threats.” However, the situation regarding Ukraine, and the Iraq/Syria theatres discussed in the previous article, illustrate “a clear trend that the focus is shifting back to Cold War era scenarios with BVR (Beyond Visual Range) warfare and much more sophisticated threats”, the S-400 Triumf deployment to Syria in late-November 2015, mentioned in the previous discussion being a prime illustration. These lessons are no doubt being digested not only within the Russian and Ukrainian armed forces, but also within NATO and across the world. This article will examine some of the leading programmes ongoing which are seeking to ensure that air platforms, and air operations in general, continue to remain able to protect their own use of the EMS, while denying its use to adversaries.

Growler

The United States is particularly aware of the SAM and radar threats it faces in today’s and tomorrow’s conflicts. One of its flagship programmes in this regard is the Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft which is being delivered to the United States Navy (USN). Entering service in September 2009, the aircraft is also equipping the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), with the USN acquiring a total of 114 airframes, and the RAAF receiving twelve, the first of which was delivered to the RAAF in late July 2015. In USN service, the EA-18G has been procured to replace the venerable Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft which was withdrawn from US service in 2015, with the United States’ Marine Corps expected to retire their EA-6B aircraft from 2019.

EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft
One of the flagship US airborne EW programmes is the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft which is also to furnish the RAAF as well as the USN. (Raytheon) 

The EA-6B is a potent electronic attack platform thanks to its Harris AN/ALQ-99 airborne integrated jamming system (see below), and Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-218 airborne ELINT gathering system, which detects, analyses and geo-locates RF emissions to identify and locate hostile RF threats, particularly radar systems, which can then be jammed using the AN/ALQ-99.

 EA-6B
Although it has been retired from US Navy service, the EA-6B is expected to remain in service with the US Marine Corps until the end of the decade. (US Navy)

Although it remains in service on the EA-18G, the AN/ALQ-99 is expected to be eventually replaced by Raytheon’s Next Generation Jammer (NGJ). There is little publicly-available information regarding the performance particulars of the NGJ. This is not surprising as the system is still under development. The USN specified in their requirement for the NGJ that it must incorporate AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) technology. Such technology incorporates a multitude of Transmit/Receive (T/R) modules mounted on a specific antenna. In the context of an EW jammer, each T/R module would be able to interpret potentially hostile RF signals that they detect, and initiate an appropriate jamming response. The advantage for EW, particularly during air operations, is that several potentially hostile threats could be detected simultaneously including ground-based air surveillance radars, combat aircraft radars, or SAM target engagement radars and jammed at the same time, using different power outputs and waveforms, a waveform being an RF transmission which has a particular power output, propagation characteristics and programming to achieve a particular task.

Raytheon’s Next Generation Jammer
Raytheon’s Next Generation Jammer could revolutionise how airborne EW could be performed. The system is thought to incorporate AESA technology. (Raytheon)

In terms of development status, in early April, the US Naval Air Systems Command, which is overseeing the NGJ effort, announced that the NGJ Increment-1 stage of the programme has transitioned into its Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase. According to publicly available reports, the USN plans to field the NGJ with different frequency bands, with Increment-1 covering mid-band radars (typically between 18-27 Gigahertz/GHz) from 2021, with low-band frequency coverage (between 0.5GHz to 18GHz) following in Increment-2 and Increment-3 taking care of high band coverage (from 18GHz to 40GHz). It was also announced in April that Raytheon would deliver 15 NGJ prototype pods to the USN during the next four years as part of a $1 billion contract ahead of an expected NGJ Increment-1 design freeze in 2017. Raytheon told Armada in a written statement that, “the threat continues to drive the evolution of airborne EW and it’s evolving more than ever.” It added that the NGJ “is a new product that will deliver (a) transformational standoff jamming capability for the US Navy’s EA-18G.”

Alongside the work that the company is performing on the NGJ, it has developed the ADM-160C MALD-J (Miniature Air-Launched Decoy-Jammer). On 11 July, the firm was awarded a contract worth $118.5 million to provide the ADM-160C to the United States Air Force (USAF). The ADM-160C is an evolution of the ADM-160A/B, the former of which was designed to mimic the electro-magnetic signature of the aircraft from which it was launched. This was intended to confuse radar operators as to which track on their screens represented their target: Both the Alpha and Bravo ADM-160 variants are similar, although the Bravo uses a more powerful engine, and a redesigned airframe, with the ADM-160C having the wherewithal to perform RF transmissions to jam hostile radars. The ADM-160C is used by the USAF’s General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters, which can carry four, and the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber which can accommodate 16.

As well as accommodating the ADM-160C, F-16 family aircraft can employ Harris’ AN/ALQ-211(V)9 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite which can detect, classify, geo-locate and jam radar threats, while also providing infrared and laser threat warning. While the AN/ALQ-211(V)9 is a podded system, the other eight AN/ALQ-211 versions can internally equip rotorcraft and fixed-wing aircraft. Recent deliveries of the AN/ALQ-211(V)9 have been made to the Pakistan Air Force and the Turkish Air Force, to equip their respective F-16A/B and F-16C/D aircraft. The AN/ALQ-211 family is not the only airborne EW system available from Harris. This March, the firm won a $88.3 million from the US Navy contract for 48 AN/ALQ-214(V)4/5 radio frequency jamming systems, which follows an earlier July 2015 award for 46 examples. The March order is expected to be completed in December 2017.

These 48 new systems will be used to protect existing US Navy McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F/A-18C/D/E/F Hornet and Super Hornet fighters. The AN/ALQ-214(V)4/5 forms part of the company’s AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (IDECM) product family. In terms of the two AN/ALQ-214(V)4/5 variants, the AN/ALQ-214(V)4 outfits the F/A-18E/F while the AN/ALQ-214(V)5 equips the legacy F/A-18C/D, the principal differences between these being the mounting equipment used to affix the system within the aircraft. The architecture of the AN/ALQ-214 combines an RF generator, onboard RF transmitters and a towed decoy. The generator produces an RF signal designed to spoof or disrupt potentially hostile radar and radar-guided SAMs and air-to-air missiles. The AN/ALQ-214 also has a modular and programmable design to counter emerging RF threats. Compared to earlier versions of the AN/ALQ-214 which commenced delivery in 1997, the AN/ALQ-214(V)4/5 has a weight saving of 100 pounds/lbs (45 kilograms/kgs) and has important updates to its hardware and software architecture. This will allow the AN/ALQ-214(V)4/5 to take emerging radar threats into account as and when they appear.

Despite the eventual replacement of the AN/ALQ-99, it is expected to remain in US Navy service for some time yet, prior to the first NGJ systems being made available for the EA-18G (see above). For example, Harris continues to perform sustainment work on the AN/ALQ-99E airborne jamming system. The AN/ALQ-99E is carried onboard the US Navy’s EF-18Gs. The work, which is expected to be completed by 2017, covers the redesign of the components equipping the AN/ALQ-99E’s universal exciter. Principally, existing parts will be replaced with field-programmable components to make it easier to configure the AN/ALQ-99E for its specific missions. The AN/ALQ-99E can perform spot and barrage jamming and can operate in automatic, semi-automatic and manual modes. Using the former mode, the AN/ALQ-99E detects electromagnetic threats, prioritises and then jams them. In its semi-automatic mode, the AN/ALQ-99E continues to prioritise the threats, although the operator selects which threats to jam and performs the jamming action, while in manual mode, the operator identifies and prioritises the threats, and initiates the jamming.

AN/ALQ-99
For many years, the AN/ALQ-99 has played an important role in helping to jam hostile RF threats. It will continue in service for some years yet before its expected replacement by the NGJ. (US Navy)

The AN/ALQ-99E is reportedly able to generate almost eleven kilowatts of jamming power. There are no publicly-available details regarding the AN/ALQ-99’s capabilities as a jammer, although it is thought to at least cover the two to 18 gigahertz segment of the electro-magnetic spectrum; although this may have been increased to 0.5-40GHz to allow the jammer to engage a higher number of radar threats, particularly millimetric wave radars inhabiting the 8.5-36GHz range used by naval fire control radars and radars employed by Anti-Ship Missiles. In addition, Exelis will complete deliveries of an undisclosed number of AN/ALQ-99 electronic warfare pods for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) by June 2017, according to a company press release issued in late-January. The RAAF is procuring the pods to equip its EA-18Gs.

EPAWSS

With significant business in both the United States and throughout the rest of the world, BAE Systems was selected earlier in 2016 to fulfil the United States Air Force (USAF) EPAWSS (Eagle Passive/Active Warning Survivability System) self-protection suite for the USAF’s McDonnell Douglas/Boeing F-15C/E Eagle Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. Boeing was selected as the prime contractor for the EPAWSS programme by the USAF in early October. Boeing in turn selected BAE Systems to provide assistance for the EPAWSS as a subcontractor. The EPAWSS replaces the Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-135D/M Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) currently equipping the F-15C/E, with the F-15C/E equipped with the AN/ALQ-135D variant, and the F-15K Slam Eagle equipping the Republic of Korea Air Force. It is thought that the system is capable of detecting and jamming multiple radar threats from air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, and from air-to-air and ground-based air/naval surveillance radar. In service with these aircraft since the 1970s, the AN/ALQ-135D/M has been continually upgraded throughout its service life. The total value of the EPAWSS programme is $4 billion, according to a press release issued by Boeing on 1 October, with the new self-protection system expected to be installed on circa 412 F-15C/E aircraft operated by the USAF. Deliveries of the EPAWSS to furnish the USAF F-15C/Es should commence in 2020, with the retrofit of these aircraft continuing until 2029.

One of BAE Systems’ flagship programmes in the airborne EW domain is the AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare/countermeasures system which equips the Lockheed Martin F-35A/B/C Lightning-II fighter. Few details have emerged regarding the exact design of the AN/ASQ-239, although the firms’ official literature stresses that it provides RF and IR (infrared) protection, and can operate in a ‘signals dense’ environment. Perhaps the most interesting hint that the defence community has had regarding the design of the AN/ASQ-239 is its apparent use of so-called ‘cognitive’ electronic warfare techniques. Cognitive EW intends to increase the amount of processing which an aircraft EW system can perform as soon as it detects a potentially-hostile RF signal. Traditional electronic intelligence required RF transmissions to be detected, recorded and then analyzed. Once the signals had been analyzed as hostile, an RF jamming response could be devised to be applied against this threat. Yet this process was understandably time consuming.

Cognitive EW employs software programmes inside the EW system to identify an RF transmission and its waveform, even if this has not been encountered by the system before, and then to devise an appropriate jamming response. Ultimately, such an approach promises to greatly accelerate the speed with which hostile signals can be detected and then jammed. This will help to protect combat aircraft carrying such EW systems, and also other aircraft in a strike package which may not possess cognitive EW capabilities.

ELINT

While much of this supplement has focused on the electronic attack element of electronic warfare, that is the tools used to transmit RF energy for the purposes of degrading, damaging and destroying an adversary’s use of the EMS, the other part of the EW triad (see the War in the Ether introduction) is electronic warfare support which encompasses Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) gathering. Much of the EW world is shadowy, but ELINT gathering is perhaps the most covert domain of all. Significant ELINT-gathering is continuing, using airborne platforms above Syria and Iraq. This is to monitor and pinpoint the use of telecommunications by ISIS and maybe also gather information regarding the electronic order-of-battle of the Syrian Air Defence Force which commands Syria’s ground-based air defences, including its radars, SAMs and AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery). The aircraft may also be collecting information regarding Russian ground-based air defences, particularly since the S-400 system was deployed in November 2015 (see above Danger on the Edge of Town article). Such information is no doubt essential for the safe performance of US-led air operations above the country against ISIS, particularly in the light of the loss of the TKK RF-4E (see above Danger on the Edge of Town article).

The RC-135V/W
The RC-135V/W (the interior of a USAF version is picture here), continues to play an important role in SIGINT and ELINT collection in the Iraqi and Syrian theatres. (USAF)

Since October 2014, the Royal Air Force has deployed at least one of its three new Boeing RC-135W Airseeker ELINT platforms to the Iraq/Syria theatre, from RAF Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus. The aircraft is based on the Boeing RC-135V/W Rivet Joint ELINT-gathering aircraft which is operated by the United States Air Force. However, one key difference between the British and the American aircraft is that the former is thought to be optimized to detect Communications Intelligence (COMINT), while having a slightly reduced capability to collect ELINT (radar information). The aircraft are thought to be able to detect and geo-locate ground tactical radio traffic using BAE Systems’ Low Band Sub System (LBSS) equipment.

The successful exploitation of the EMS depends upon understanding the electromagnetic environment in which operations are being performed. Products such as Rockwell Collins’ IFMR-6070 receiver greatly assist in this regard. The product offers instantaneous frequency coverage from 0.5GHz to 18GHz, performing precise radar signal measurement and analysis with growth potential to cover a frequency range of 0.5 to 40GHz. In addition, Mr. Rexford states that the company recently “just introduced the RC-8800 multi-channel microwave tuner, designed to support signal detection in the 0.5 to 20 GHz range.” He adds that both of these products are currently under evaluation with the US armed forces and several unnamed NATO countries. Alongside detecting potentially hostile RF signals, the ability to detect other non-RF threats against aircraft forms an important part of airborne EW. Orbital ATK’s AAR-47 Missile Warning System provides missile detection via the infrared detection of the missile’s exhaust heat, while acoustic sensors which the company is integrating onto the AAR-47 allow the detection of rocket-propelled grenade launchers and small arms fire, which is a particular hazard to low-flying military aircraft such as helicopters. Company officials told the author that the firm is examining the integration of a Short Wave IR (SWIR) camera within the AAR-47 architecture to heighten the system’s visual detection of incoming threats, particularly when some threats have a low heat signature. The firm added that, when used in conjunction with the AAR-47’s integral sensors, this can reduce the threat false alarm rate. Orbital ATK added that it is currently testing the SWIR and acoustic augmented AAR-47 prototypes in a live fire environment. It hopes to have this new version of the AAR-47 ready for delivery in 2019, and the AAR-47 thus equipped can either be supplied as a new-build product, or these additional capabilities can be retrofitted onto existing systems.

Orbital ATK is augmenting its AAR-47 missile
Orbital ATK is augmenting its AAR-47 missile approach warning system with new acoustic and SWIR sensors to enhance its responsiveness. (US Navy)

European Efforts

Away from US suppliers, Leonardo is to equip the BAE Systems Hawk Mk.209 light attack aircraft of the Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Udara (TNI-AU/Indonesian Air Force) with its SEER advanced Radar Warning Receiver. Deliveries are expected to commence this September and conclude by the end of the year. SEER collects information on potential threats and displays this to aircrew either on a dedicated threat warning indicator or on cockpit multi-function displays. In addition, it can record and replay RF threat information gathered by the equipment during a mission for debriefing purposes. Capable of recording up to 20 hours of operations, SEER can detect and analyze signals from S-band (2.3-2.5/2.7-3.7GHz) to the low K-band (24.05-24.25GHz), with the option to extend this downwards to mid-range Ultra High Frequency (420-450/890-942MHz) and upwards to Ka-band (33.4-36GHz) levels. Capable of detecting frequency-agile radar emissions under 50 nanoseconds in duration, the equipment can detect pulsed, pulse Doppler and continuous wave radar emissions, and imposes a weight penalty of 24.2lbs (eleven kilograms/kgs) on the aircraft.

It is not only light attack aircraft which are receiving new EW systems. The Aeronautica Militaire (Italian Air Force) is receiving Elettronica’s ELT/572 Directional Infra-Red Counter-Measures (DIRCM) for their fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules turboprop freighters with the ELT/572 being factory-installed by Lockheed Martin in the United States. The installation of the ELT/572 DIRCM on the Italian C-130Js is expected to conclude by the end of 2016. The ELT/572 is designed to protect wide-bodied aircraft and helicopters and defeats IR-guided SAMs and air-to-air missiles by shining laser light into their seekers to blind the weapon. During the July Farnborough air show in the UK, the company announced that will collaborate with Thales on the development of the Cybele Integrated Self Defence System which will equip both rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. For the development of Cybele, Thales will provide a missile warning system, radar warning receiver and a chaff/flare dispenser, with Elettronica providing the electronic support measure (which contains the RF threat libraries enabling the system to recognize hostile RF threats), a directional IR countermeasure to disrupt IR-guided missiles, electronic countermeasures and the Sparc active decoy, the development of which Elettronica expects to conclude by the end of 2017. In addition, a laser warning system, to alert the crew to incoming laser-guided missiles will be acquired from a third party.

Much like the RC-135W aircraft of the Royal Air Force discussed above, the Armée de l’Air (AdlA/French Air Force) TransAllianz C-160G2 Gabriel Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) gathering aircraft may be assisting in anti-ISIS efforts while also ‘hoovering up’ general ELINT, potentially related to Syrian air defences. The C-160G2, of which the AdlA operates two, are thought to be equipped with Thales’ ASTAC ELINT collection system for ground and surface-based, and airborne, radar threats across frequencies from circa 250MHz up to 24.25 gigahertz/GHz, according to company literature. COMINT, meanwhile, is collected by the aircraft’s EPICEA (Ensemble Pilotant un Centre d’Ecoutes Automatisé/Automatic Listening Centre) subsystem, also thought to be provided by Thales.

Other major European suppliers of airborne EW systems have been active during the past twelve months, including Airbus which will deliver its AN/AAR-60(V)2 MILDS-F fighter missile launch detection system to the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force/RNAF) throughout 2016. In March, the company announced that it will equip the force’s General Dynamics/Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM fighters with same payload. The number of systems to be delivered remains classified, although the RNAF operates 61 of these aircraft. The AN/AAR-60(V)2 uses IR imagery to detect the hot exhaust plume of an incoming surface-to-air/air-to-air missile. Once the AN/AAR-60(V)2 detects the incoming missile and its trajectory, it initiates the launch of countermeasures to protect the aircraft, and alerts the crew to the threat so that they can commence evasive action. The system can handle multiple threats, prioritizing the most dangerous, using a number of sensors, each of which has a 115 degree field-of-view mounted around the airframe to provide 360 degree coverage.

Leonardo’s BriteCloud expendable RF decoy
Leonardo’s BriteCloud expendable RF decoy is expected to equip a number of airframes including the JAS-39E. (Leonardo)

While the RNAF is modernizing its F-16AM/BM fighters with new self-protection systems, Saab will be equipping its new JAS-39E Gripen fighter, which was rolled out on 18 May, with the firms’ BOL-700 self-protection system. This product has been designed to help keep the aircraft’s Radar Cross Section (RCS) as low as possible. This is achieved by installing the BOL-700 either completely inside the airframe, or in a pylon mount. The JAS-39E will begin to equip the Brazilian and Swedish air forces early next decade. This chaff and flare dispenser will be controlled by the Saab multifunction fighter EW system which also equips the JAS-39E. In terms of the BOL-700’s payload, it is expected to deploy Leonardo (Selex) BriteCloud expendable Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) decoy. This is designed to be launched from an aircraft’s standard 55mm flare cartridge. Once in the air, it detects and prioritizes hostile RF transmissions which it then retransmits in such a fashion as to lure these RF threats away from the launching aircraft.

A JAS-39C/D fighter is seen here dispersing flares
A JAS-39C/D fighter is seen here dispersing flares. Saab will outfit the newest version of this aircraft, the JAS-39E, with its BOL-700 countermeasures dispenser. (Saab)

Fellow Scandinavians Terma is forging ahead with their AN/ALQ-213 electronic warfare management system. In a nutshell, the AN/ALQ-213 integrates all of a combat aircraft’s self-protection systems and allows them to be managed from a single cockpit controller. According to Dan Ulrich, senior vice president of airborne systems at the firm, it has supplied over 3000 AN/ALQ-213s for fixed-wing and rotary military aircraft around the world to date. Mr. Ulrich adds that the firm is currently under contract to deliver the AN/ALQ-213 for installation onboard the NH Industries NH-90NFH/TTH naval support and medium-lift utility helicopters equipping the Dutch air force and navy. Mr. Ulrich adds that the first AN/ALQ-213s to equip these machines have been delivered, with deliveries expected to be completed to this effect by the end of next year. The AN/ALQ-213 is already in service onboard the McDonnell Douglas/Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopter gunships operated by the RNAF, and is also equipping the Boeing P-8A/I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft furnishing the Indian Air Force, RAAF, Republic of Korea Air Force and the USAF.

Israel

Alongside the industrial efforts of European and North American suppliers, Israel is a known centre of excellence for airborne electronic warfare systems, with leading suppliers Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems very active in this domain alongside Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). This latter company is thought to supply airborne EW systems for the three Gulfstream G-550 Shavit business jets operated by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) which perform ELINT gathering. Details regarding the precise equipment fit of these three aircraft are sparse, although they are reportedly furnished with IAI ELTA Systems division’s mission fit thought to comprise ELINT and COMINT systems. IAI’s official literature discussing its EL/I-3001 AISIS (Airborne Integrated Signals Intelligence System) product depicts a G-550 with a strong resemblance to the G-550 Shavit on its cover, although bereft of IAF markings, the inference being that the G-550 Shavit either carries the EL/I-3001 AISIS, or is outfitted with an ELINT package based on this product.

Rafael’s Sky Shield self-protection system
Rafael’s Sky Shield self-protection system is designed as a comprehensive jamming platform which can equip a number of platforms, including the AMX International AMX light combat aircraft. (Rafael)

Away from strategic and operational level systems such as the G-550 Shavit, IAI provides systems to protect individual combat aircraft such as the modular EL/L-8260 product which possesses either a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) or a Radar Warning and Locating (RWL) device as standard plus an EW controller. These basic sensors can be combined with a MAWS (Missile Approach Warning System) and a third-party laser warning system, plus chaff and flare dispensers, a towed RF decoy for countering SAMs and air-to-air missiles and a third party directional infrared countermeasure. IAI’s EL/L-8265 includes an RWR and RWL. According to Rami Navon, the firms’ EW systems marketing and projects manager, one essential design prerequisite for modern airborne EW systems is for them to be able to detect Low Probability of Interception (LPI) radars. This means that any RWR which is accommodated on a military aircraft must be capable of detecting the weak RF transmissions associated with LPI radars.

Mr. Navon continues that it is imperative for any modern RWR to be capable of geo-locating where a specific radar threat is located so that it can be safely avoided, accurately jammed, or so that kinetic effects, in the form of an anti-radiation missile, or conventional air-to-ground or surface-to-surface fires can be employed against this threat. One concept which Mr. Navon noted is a new technology called ‘Spatial ELINT’ developed by IAI. This approach is enhanced in order to be used by the company’s electronic countermeasure systems which can examine simultaneously a wide swath of airspace and detect hostile RF threats. Once these hostile threats are detected, they can be geo-located and jammed with accurate directional transmission, while the EW system continues to simultaneously watch the enemy’s arena for other hostile threats.

Other systems in the IAI stable include the EL/L-8212 and EL/L-8222, the principal difference between these being their physical size, with the EL/L-8212 being designed for relatively small fighter aircraft such as the F-16 family, and the EL/L-8222 optimised for larger platforms such as the F-15 family. Both the EL/L-8212 and EL/L-8222 can be accommodated on weapons stations capable of carrying Raytheon’s AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile) AAM family, alongside Raytheon’s AIM-7M Sparrow AAM, and still maintain the full flight envelope of the host aircraft as if the pod was another missile.

  

Elbit’s Light SPEAR
Elbit’s Light SPEAR product is designed to provide self-protection to UAVs. The protection of such assets is a trend increasingly being witnessed within the airpower community, particularly for strategic UAVs. (Elbit)

Joining IAI as a leading supplier of airborne EW systems is Elbit’s Elisra division which produces the United EW Suite equipped with “one central processing Line Replacement Unit (LRU) for all EW suite functions (such as radar, laser and missile approach warning, and chaff and flare dispensing. This approach enables simple platform installation and Integration (less LRUs means less power consumption and weight) and reduces maintenance effort and cost.” Allied to this, the firm provides; “mission support tools for threat libraries programing and mission debriefing. EW mission support tools allow rapid and constant updates of the threat parameters, to be performed independently by the end user.” The firm has recognised that, alongside inhabited aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also required self-protection and EW systems. This has resulted in the development of its Light SPEAR jammer for UAVs, which the firm states has been sold “to several customers,” who’s identity is preserved. In the inhabited domain, the firm has developed its All-In-Small EW suite housed in a single LRU (see above). Alongside controlling radar, laser and missile warning, plus countermeasures dispensing, the All-In-Small can be connected to a DIRCM (Directional Infrared Countermeasure) to defeat incoming IR-guided missiles.

IAI’s EL/L-8212
IAI’s EL/L-8212 makes an ideal fit for F-16-sized fighter aircraft and is able to be accommodated on the aircraft’s weapons stations which are capable of carrying AIM-7, AIM-9 and AIM-120 weapons. (IAI) 

The Association of Old Crows international electronic warfare advocacy organisation defines electronic warfare as “the struggle for control of the electromagnetic spectrum … to assure that friendly forces can use the spectrum to their full potential in wartime, while denying that use to enemies.” The products described above all play their important role in making this maxim a reality. With the present examined, we now turn our thoughts to how airborne electronic warfare could develop in the future.

IAI’s EL/L-8222
IAI’s EL/L-8222 self protection system is designed for comparatively large fighters of F-15 size. Like its smaller sibling, the EL/L-8222, it can be accommodated on the aircraft’s weapons stations. (IAI)
Elbit’s All-In-Small
Elbit’s All-In-Small provides a single EW suite controller which can manage several of a combat aircraft’s disparate self-protection systems, as this infographic demonstrates. (Elbit)

by Thomas Withington