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Q2 2016: Ensuring Airborne Intelligence and Awareness

Electronic Warfare (EW) is the use of the mostly invisible world of the electromagnetic spectrum to conduct military action.  Basically, it’s an invisible battlefield populated by an unseen enemy – a nightmarish scenario for pilots heading out on a mission.

Dealing with this threat is made even more challenging by the rapidity with which the enemy can alter its EW signals. Up-to-the minute awareness of those signals and threats is critical to an air crew’s mission and their survivability.

DRS is developing Operator Awareness, a game-changing capability that enhances the effectiveness of its already successful Electronic Warfare Tiered Testing Capability.  Operator Awareness is expected to provide operators with last-minute awareness of threat signals that might be encountered during an in-flight operational mission.

These Operator Awareness sessions take place during an air crew’s pre-flight briefing sessions, providing them with a last-minute update of the various threat signals that might be encountered on their mission.

This pre-flight session not only provides air crews with last-minute EW intelligence but also reinforces the EW training they received during their routine full-mission simulator training sessions performed on the platform simulators.

Operator Awareness, takes data generated by the electronic warfare tiered testing capability and uses it to create an operational EW scenario that can be used in either a classroom environment or on a platform, both of which serve to enhance EW operational awareness for an air crew.

 

“Operational Awareness, with its use of the DRS stimulator and hoods, is a unique and an extremely cost effective method of demonstrating how EW systems will react in an actual operational signal environment,” said Dr. Bruce Holley, Head of Air Systems for DRS UK.  “It provides operators with a better understanding of how to interpret EW displays and performance prior to an operational or EW training mission.”

How it works

The DRS Electronic Warfare Tiered Testing Capability transmits simulated signal data into EW systems antennas via small anechoic chambers called hoods, which can be used on Rx and Tx systems such as electronic support measures, missile approach warners, and jammers.

The maintainer/operator verifies that the simulated threat accurately appears on the platform’s displays by comparing those displays with a hand-held tablet display that details the output from the DRS stimulator.  This comparison allows the operator to easily determine the functionality of the EW equipment on board the platform.

Operator Awareness, and the up-to-the-minute situational awareness it provides, is extremely beneficial for air crews since routine simulator training sessions are usually scheduled weeks in advance and are generally performed only as part of compulsory scheduled training flight training.

The DRS Operator Awareness sessions not only provide a significant enhancement to routine simulator training, but can also be extremely cost effective additional simulator sessions are not only expensive but are difficult to schedule as platform simulators tend to be in high demand.

Operator Awareness can provide significant benefits and capabilities for users 

  • Set up a mission scenario by programming a selection of EW Warning Signals which may be encountered during a proposed mission;
  • Run a mission to enable Operator Awareness of EW warning tones/threat TAGS under conditions that might be encountered during the mission;  
  • Increase Operational Awareness of signals outside the missile engagement zone: mobile phone signals, domestic air traffic control radars, friendly radars etc.;
  • Increase Operational Awareness of the effect/impact of EW system counter measures on a particular “threat” scenario. Indications of when countermeasures are deployed;
  • Quickly program demonstrate new and emerging threat scenarios to operational crews. New threat scenarios could be demonstrated in a very short time frame prior to an operational mission.

Operator Awareness can be of significant value if used during aircrew de-briefing sessions to re-run a mission in order to assess the functionality of a platforms EW System during a Mission. 

The DRS stimulator is programmed to run a sequential signal-generation program consisting of different threat signals at varying signal levels to represent different ranges. Users can also run mission scenarios that are able to replicate a greater level of received signal authenticity by simulating signals at varying power levels, superimposing noise and spurious signals depending on the complexity of the scenario being generated. One of the major advantages of using this concept is that the theory in the classroom can then be replicated on an operational platform to ensure the platform systems are capable of detecting and countering the mission scenario generated threats. 

Operational Awareness truly can help air crews prepare for, and overcome, that unseen enemy on the invisible battlefield.  For more information about this capability, please click here to download the full white paper.

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