Schooling naval personnel in electromagnetic righteousness is at the heart of the training provided by NATO’s JEWCS organisation.
Joint Electronic Warfare Core Staff (JEWCS)
The alliance’s Joint Electronic Warfare Core Staff (JEWCS) is based at Yeovilton airbase, southwest England. It is in the midst of an important modernisation overhauling the EW training equipment at its disposal as the result of a contract worth $204 million awarded in February 2017 to a team led by Leonardo including Cobham and Elettronica. The contract calls for new EW training equipment to be delivered over a four-year period concluding in 2021.
At the core of the EW training offered by JEWCS in the naval domain is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Anti-Ship Missile Defence Evaluation Facility, better known as NASMDEF.
Physically NASMDEF includes pods outfitting aircraft and which can be programmed to transmit radar waveforms like those transmitted by hostile radar-guided Anti-Ship Missiles (AShMs) while the aircraft assume a flight profile akin to that of a specific AShM. The NASMDEF pods equip the Dassault Falcon-90 converted business jets flown by Cobham which support the JEWCS training.
In the past Cobham sources have shared with the author that the pods will simulate radar signals transmitted across wavebands of between eight gigahertz/GHz and 20GHz, encompassing the X-band (8.5GHz to 10.68GHz) and Ku-band (13.4GHz to 14GHz/15.7GHz to 17.7GHz) transmissions commonly used by the radars equipping contemporary AShMs.
The AShM training pods form one part of a trio of systems used for naval EW training. This also includes a pod designed to perform communications jamming across a waveband of 30 megahertz/MHz to 512MHz. These help to train crews to operate in environments where their very/ultra high frequency communications maybe attacked, while a pod which transmits across wavebands of 500MHz to 40GHz prepares crews to operate in environments where a warships’ naval surveillance or fire control radars are being jamming.
Cobham sources have told the author that these pods use open architecture enabling them to be enhanced or upgraded with relative ease as and when new electromagnetic threats are encountered. They continued that the pods typically have a transmission range of eight nautical miles/nm (15 kilometres/km) to 17.3nm (32.1km) at altitude, although ranges of 86.8nm (160.9km) have been achieved.
Elettronica’s involvement in the JEWCS initiative has seen the firm provide systems from its Virgilius electronic support measure and electronic countermeasure family, the company told Armada Analysis in a written statement.
Electronica’s German subsidiary, Elettronica GmbH, has provided its radar simulator and tracking system which “generates the radar scenario simulation,” the statement noted, “and ensures the correct positioning and tracking of the platforms under training.” These systems are integrated into two Maritime Training Systems which the firm says are “shelter-based solutions integrating both radar and communications deployed either on the ground or on board a ship.”
Armada Analysis’ information note that almost 400 AShMs may have been exported to state and non-state actors alike by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the People’s Republic of China and Russia in 2019 alone. NATO and allied navies will need to keep their skills scalpel-sharp if they are to ensure that such weapons cannot meaningfully impede their operations. The advances made via these initiatives will help immeasurably.