Reports emerged in May that the Australian Army will receive new mobile EW systems. What will this mean for its EW posture?
The Australian Army has a dedicated EW formation in the guise of the 7th Signals Regiment, itself part of the 6th Combat Support Brigade, headquartered in Sydney on the country’s south coast. EW equipment in use with the force includes Chemring’s Resolve-3 manpack Communications Intelligence (COMINT) gathering system which covers a three megahertz to three gigahertz waveband. These systems are probably used to gather COMINT at the tactical level and were procured under the auspices of the army’s Land-500 Phase-1 programme.
Supplementing the Resolve-3 manpacks are the six Thales Bushmaster vehicles acquired under the Land-555 Phase-6 Tranche-1 initiative. This took the Resolve-3 but installed it into the vehicle thus providing both a mobile and dismounted tactical EW capability for the army. A written statement provided to Armada Analysis by the Australian Department of Defence stated that these are expected to enter service with the force “in the next twelve months.”
Land-555 Phase-6 Tranche-2 will see a wholesale deepening of these capabilities beyond the COMINT collection functions provided by the Resolve-3. The statement continued that this effort “will allow army’s electronic warfare capability to be interoperable with joint and coalition partner electronic warfare systems,” although how this will work in practice is classified.
As far as electronic attack is concerned it can be assumed that the platform must have the wherewithal to jam hostile communications systems and networks, presumably across wavebands of at least 30 megahertz to three gigahertz, while also being able to demodulate or decrypt enemy communications so that misleading or erroneous traffic can be inserted into those networks. A battle management function will allow the system to ascertain the effectiveness of these electronic attacks. The electronic support element, meanwhile, focuses on ensuring that hostile emitters can be identified and geolocated with COMINT extracted therein.
The army expects the Land-555 Phase-6 Tranche-2 capabilities to be either outfitting the Bushmasters, to be trailer mounted, or to outfit other unspecified protected vehicles. An invitation to register and participate in the tender for Land-555 Phase-6 Tranche-2 was released in September 2018 with the release of a request to tender expected in mid-2020, the statement continued. Open sources state that delivery of this new capability could occur in circa 2023.