The battlefield of electronic warfare (EW) is the electromagnetic spectrum. The purpose of EW is to deny by electronic means access to the spectrum by an enemy while ensuring allies enjoy full use of it at will. Many companies design, manufacture and offer products in this unique sphere, which touches sea, land, air and space.
Although humans have conducted warfare for millennia, they are relative newcomers to the electronic spectrum, where operations are governed by the laws of physics. The first forces to venture into this heretofore unknown environment were Japanese and Russian early in the 20th century. The Japanese auxiliary cruiser Shinano Maru had located the Russian Baltic Fleet in Tsushima Strait and was communicating the fleet's location by a wireless transmission to the headquarters of the Imperial Japanese Fleet.
The captain of the Russian warship Orel requested permission to disrupt the Japanese communications link by attempting to send a stronger radio signal over that of the Shinano Maru with the intention of distorting the Japanese transmission. Russian Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky rebuffed the request and denied the Orel permission to jam the enemy electronically, which in those circumstances might have proved invaluable.
The intelligence the Japanese gained ultimately led to the decisive Battle of Tsushima, which resulted in a humiliating defeat for Russia. The czar’s navy lost all its battleships and most of its cruisers and destroyers. These staggering losses effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War in Japan's favor. Some 4,400 Russians were killed and 5,900 were captured, including two admirals, with about 1,900 more interned.[
During World War II the Allied and Axis powers extensively used EW, or what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called “the battle of the beams.” Navigational radars afforded a means to guide bombers to their targets and back to their bases. The first application of EW in the war was to defeat those navigational radars. Chaff was also introduced during the conflict to confuse and defeat tracking radar systems.
As time progressed and battlefield communication and radar technology improved, so did EW. Electronic warfare played a major role in many military operations in Viet Nam. Crews on bombing runs and air-to-air missions often relied on EW to survive.
Much more recently, an Israeli attack in 2007 on a suspected Syrian nuclear site used electronic warfare systems to disrupt Syrian air defenses while Israeli jets crossed much of Syria, bombed their targets, and returned to Israel undeterred. The target of the flight of 10 F-15aircraft was a suspected nuclear reactor under construction near the Euphrates River, modeled on a North Korean reactor and supposedly financed with Iranian assistance. Some reports say Israeli EW systems deactivated all of Syria's air defense systems for the entire time of the raid.
For more than a decade, Leonardo DRS has been working to develop EW solutions for special operations forces. The company has achieved significant reduction in size, weight and power (SWaP) of electronic attack and surveillance gear special operators must carry to conduct EW operations.
Leonardo DRS solutions include provisions for signal intelligence (SIGINT) and cyber operations. These capabilities defend military networks and information systems while exploiting an adversary’s communications through intelligence gathering, analysis and dissemination, ensuring the right information flows to commanders who need it when they need it.
The company’s portfolio of hardware and software capabilities provides signal recognition, detection, identification and geolocation in order to discover, exploit and attack. Hardware is aligned with the customer’s requirements for low SWaP without sacrificing performance. The low SWaP factor allows multi-function EW capabilities, permitting integration of the equipment into cross-domain platforms. Such Leonardo DRS offerings likeBlackstone, Pitbull and Ridgeback can detect, recognize, identify and jam signals employed by conventional forces and unmanned air systems.
The Blackstone sensor performs direction finding (DF), time difference of arrival, electronic protection, and electronic support capabilities providing mission-critical intelligence to special operations teams. By rapidly detecting and locating a wide range of threat signals, monitoring signals of interest, and supporting real-time analysis of the signal environment, EW ensures the right information flows to the right person when it’s needed. The light weight, low power consumption, field programmability and multiple deployment configurations make Blackstone well suited for a wide range of operational scenarios.
The Blackstone Body-Worn Sensor employs ruggedized smart phone technology for configuration, command and control. It also displays parameters of intercepted signals and the positions of team members overlaid on a geo-referenced map, which provides situational awareness.
The Blackstone Vehicle Mount Kit extends the utility of the Blackstone sensor into stationary mast and moving vehicle applications. The sensor and DF head are repurposed from their on-the-march configuration to the VMK configuration in fewer than five minutes. Vehicle mounting with the VMK improves the HF DF performance while extending mobility and field of view depending upon deployment.
Small enough and light enough to be carried without detection in a backpack, PitBull is a compact, multi-functional, dual agile transceiver sensor capable of monitoring and locating multiple advanced signal emitters. The sensor can be used by itself or networked with other sensors to accomplish its programmed mission objective. Each controller attached to a sensor in a network can control and monitor local and remote sensors in that network. PitBull has many features that allow covert missions for virtually any commercial mobile protocol.
Featuring a fully digital signal processing path with up to 18 wideband channels, each with an extremely wide instantaneous bandwidth, Ridgeback is the top performing EW system in the industry. Taking communications intelligence to a new level, Ridgeback permits ultra-fast scanning, signal detection, interception, direction finding (DF), collection, geolocation, measurement, analysis, signal recognition and the identification of conventional, modern, and agile signals.
This robust system offers performance that features a wideband intercept capability with simultaneous DF measurement. It utilizes Leonardo DRS Vesper transceivers each with an instantaneous bandwidth of 100 MHz to scan all or part of the 20 MHz to 6 GHz band at up to 20 GHz per second. In addition, with the full bandwidth monitor option, the system can have up to 48 DDCs, each with selectable bandwidth filters. The DDCs include independently selectable IF bandwidth and streaming I/Q in VITA-49 format.
Ridgeback is designed for use on land, sea and airborne platforms. It offers a fully digital signal processing path with up to 18 wideband channels, each with a broad instantaneous bandwidth to ensure that no signal is left uncovered.
Next generation Leonardo DRS systems are just around the corner. These systems include advanced features, higher performance levels and wider frequency ranges all in lower SWaP configurations for increaded battlefield advantage for special operations forces.