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Emerging Electronic Warfare Technology

Demonstrator Laser Weapon System_050823A
[Demonstrator Laser Weapon System - The US Department of Defense]



- Overview

Electronic Warfare (EW) is the ability to use the electromagnetic spectrum to sense, protect, and communicate. EW can be applied from air, sea, land, and space by manned and unmanned systems. 

EW techniques include: 

  • Radio and microwave frequencies for satellites, radars, and communications
  • Infrared for enemy targeting and intelligence gathering
  • Electro-optical, infrared, and radio frequency countermeasures
  • EM compatibility and deception
  • Radio jamming, radar jamming and deception
  • Electronic counter-countermeasures (or anti-jamming)
  • Electronic masking, probing, reconnaissance, and intelligence

EW's purpose is to deny the opponent the advantage of and ensure friendly unimpeded access to the EM spectrum. More advanced EW can also intercept, identify, and decode the data of adversaries.


- History and Future of Electronic Warfare

For millennia, military strategists have used a variety of tools and techniques to covertly learn about enemy plans, trick opponents into making tactical mistakes, disrupt enemy communications, and more. But during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904, electronic warfare (EW) emerged as an effective tool to achieve these goals. That's when electronic warfare capabilities were first used in combat, with HMS Diana successfully intercepting Russian Navy radio signals. 

Since then, the importance of electronic warfare has been directly proportional to its growing capabilities, changing the way countries defend, how they fight, how they win wars, and even whether they go to war or not. The use of radar (radio detection and ranging) came into play in World War II, along with higher power jamming, also known as electronic countermeasures (ECM) and signal intelligence (SIGINT) collection. In response to these tools, stealth systems against radar, electronic countermeasures measures (ECCMs) and electronic support measures (ESMs) followed. 

Behind this continued brinkmanship are evolving technologies that are making greater use of the electromagnetic spectrum and preventing adversaries from using it. Beyond these immediate tactical responses, breakthroughs have led to satellite-based global positioning systems (GPS), the increasing use of remotely controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and the use of cyber tools and systems to disrupt adversary military activities while sowing discord between factions. In fact, EW and cyber warfare overlap so frequently that the future of EW in many countries will certainly involve the full integration of these two powerful capabilities.


- New Electronic Warfare Technology with Offense and Defense

Rapid innovation in next-generation information warfare systems, integrated solutions for counter-information hacking techniques, machine learning algorithms for detecting and neutralizing cyber threats, and improved hardware for limiting cyber threats are growing rapidly. 

The military's electromagnetic signature technology can be used to detect enemy vehicles, protect allied forces from attack and provide electromagnetic spectrum sensor support to troops. This capability is broadly known as Electronic Warfare (EW). Electronic warfare has always been a part of modern combat, but it has evolved far beyond radio jamming. 

The innate ability of cognitive systems to learn, perceive, reason, and interact with humans and their surroundings will accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation electronic warfare threat detection technologies. 

When cognitive systems are used to build electronic warfare, military researchers can more easily spot trends and create hypotheses that could lead to important system improvements, while also predicting the unique needs of certain operations. The most efficient cognitive EW applications don't just rely on computers; they also use human methods and understanding. 

Combining the power of electronic and cyber warfare, information operations, and signals intelligence is a new industry trend for both offensive and defensive reasons. The seamless integration of electronic warfare and cyber warfare provides warfighters with powerful defensive and offensive capabilities. A shift in combat tactics is expected due to the increasing use of cyber technologies.



[More to come ...]



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