Lockheed Martin TLS-EAB
An artist’s impression of Lockheed Martin’s offering for the TLS-BCT requirement. Lessons learned from this programme will be factored into the TLS-EAB effort.

The US Army is moving forward with its TLS-EAB ensemble to support operational-level CEMA.

The Association of Old Crows’ CEMA-2021 conference had updates on the US Army’s TLS-EAB system. The conference was held in late May in Belcamp, Maryland and online. The Terrestrial Layered System Echelons Above Brigade (TLS-EAB) is a major part of the army’s electronic warfare modernisation. The army’s Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) will receive the TLS-BCT. The TLS-BCT’s equipment will be installed on a version of the General Dynamics M-1133 Stryker medical evacuation platform. This was chosen because it has enough electrical connections to power the vehicles’ electronic warfare equipment.

As Armada has reported the TLS-BCT supports the manoeuvre force with electronic and cyberattack. It will detect communications and radar threats across wavebands of circa 30 megahertz to at least 18 gigahertz. Electronic/cyber attack will be performed in direct support of the manoeuvre force.

Operational-level SIGINT collection and electronic/cyber attack will be performed by the TLS-EAB. The TLS-EAB will comprise two Oshkosh FMTV wheeled tactical vehicles. One will carry a SIGINT and jamming system. This will likely detect and engage threats on similar wavebands to the TLS-BCT. The second will carry an electronic protection system. This will help safeguard friendly communications networks and radios from hostile electronic/cyberattack. The vehicle will perform cyber/electronic attack to preempt hostile actions. Unlike the first vehicle, it will not collect SIGINT.

TLS-EAB

Kevin Wilson, the US Army’s TLS-EAB lead in the electronic warfare and cyber at the programme executive office for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors updated CEMA-2021 delegates on progress.

An OTA (Other Transaction Authority) award is expected by the middle of 2022. OTA agreements engage industry and academe for research and prototyping. They are not procurement contracts. Mr. Wilson said that the goal of the OTA is to perform a full installation of the prototype system.

Development is being performed alongside the TLS-BCT. Relevant lessons learned emanating from this programme will be rolled into the TLS-EAB’s development. Similarly, continued testing of prototype systems during exercises will help inform development.

The TLS-EAB is currently in the pre-prototyping phase. This should finish by mid-2022. According to Mr. Wilson, the first two months of 2022 will see bids collected from prospective vendors. TLS-EAB prototyping will begin following the OTA award. Mr. Wilson expects a prototype field demonstration to happen by the end of 2023. Vendor selection is expected by mid-2024.

MDTF

Limited production should begin by late 2024. This will let the army field some TLS-EABs with its Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF). The army initiated the MDTF in 2017. It forms the bedrock of the force’s strategy to defeat anti-access/area-denial postures. MDTFs are earmarked for Europe and Asia-Pacific.

A US Congressional Research Service document on the MDTF provides more detail: The MDTF will have strategic fires, air defence and brigade support battalions. An Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space (I2CEWS) battalion will support these. The I2CEWS includes two military intelligence companies, a signals company, an extended range sensing and effects company and an information defence company. It is reasonable to assume that the TLS-EAB will support all these elements. It will perform electronic/cyberattack on their behalf and on behalf of the MDTF’s kinetic battalions. Full rate TLS-EAB production should begin in 2025.

The TLS-EAB is not just an important enhancement of army operational-level CEMA. It may provide similar support to allies during future multilateral A2AD deployments.

by Dr. Thomas Withington