Interview – Understanding the Parameters

Dr. Sue Robertson’s new book on Practical ESM analysis examines conventional ESM techniques and makes recommendations on how these can be improved.

Renowned EW expert Dr. Sue Robertson recently published a book examining electronic support measures. She shares her thoughts on this, and the challenges of encouraging young people into EW.

Practical ESM Analysis

“I had been working in the field for a long time, and there was not much information about performing electronic support measure analysis,” reflects Dr. Sue Robertson, director of EW Defence and a leading figure in the global EW domain. As a result, she decided to write a book on the subject which was published by Artech House in late 2019. Practical ESM Analysis takes a close look at radar parameters and how they affect Electronic Support Measures (ESM).

The subjects Dr. Robertson examines are increasing in importance. The electromagnetic environment is becoming ever-more congested with the proliferation of wireless and cellular devices only adding to the electromagnetic white noise within which military radars can hide using an array of techniques such as low probability of interception/detection waveforms and sidelobe suppression to name just two approaches.

Her book examines existing ESM techniques in detail, while challenging some existing orthodoxies like RF (Radio Frequency) scan strategies for narrowband receivers, with Dr. Robertson suggesting new methods which have proven effective in trials to meet these challenges.

As well as contributing to important debates, Dr. Robertson hopes that her book will benefit others working in the field. Drawing on her own experiences to date she told Armada Analysis that “if I had some reference material when I started off in electronic warfare, that would have been very useful,” with her book aiming to address this shortfall in the literature.

EW Appeal

Dr. Roberston has been working in electronic warfare for over 20 years. She initially worked on digital radio frequency memory technology “and then I ended up doing more work on ESMs, and crucially why some ESMs were not working very well.”

Association of Old Crows (AOC)

Beyond her work as an author and as a director of EW Defence, Dr. Robertson is heavily involved with the Association of Old Crows (AOC) electronic warfare advocacy organisation. She says that while a lot of individuals involved in EW have military backgrounds, the AOC is working hard to attract young people.

“EW can seem like a bit of a niche for young people,” she observes, but says that the growing influence of the cyber security and cyber warfare domains which are both proving attractive to youngsters could spread into the EW world as the electronic warfare and cyber domain draw closer.

“We have made the first three years of AOC membership free for young people,” Dr. Roberston explains: “We are providing education and courses and we are very keen to get people involved in the organisation and domain.”

Different EW areas

Young people entering the EW world will find a vibrant environment at the forefront of technology, with a range of areas such as the use of space for electronic warfare, particularly intelligence collection, increasing thanks to the proliferation of small ‘cubesats’. These can be launched and operated at a fraction of the cost of their conventional signals intelligence satellite counterparts.

Similarly, “cognitive EW is taking off and the use of neural networks for EW is having a resurgence,” says Dr. Robertson.

Her book is available both as a hard copy and as a download, and can be found here:

Likewise, the AOC can be found here:

by Dr. Thomas Withington