Armada’s monthly round-up of all the latest electronic warfare news in the product, programme and operational domains.
Leonardo and Elettronica signed an agreement to “strengthen long-term strategic cooperation” according to a 3rd November press release. This cooperation will see the two companies jointly developing solutions to respond to the demands of European and international markets. These solutions will be applicable to the maritime and air domains. Governance of the agreement will be exercised via the appointment of a permanent steering committee.
Following the company’s launch of its Model 110050030 dual-directional RF and microwave coupler chronicled in Armada’s November Spectrum Sitrep, Krytar has unveiled another new product. Its new Model 102050006 is a directional coupler covering a two gigahertz/GHz to 50GHz waveband. These couplers allow two microwave circuits to be combined into a single integrated system in one direction. Meanwhile, two microwave circuits can be isolated from each other in the opposite direction. Beyond electronic warfare, applications mooted for the product include satellite communications and radar.
Interface Concept has introduced its new ComEth4682e ethernet switch. A company press release revealed that the ComEth4682e is a “3U OpenVPX Ethernet switch that is 25/100Gb Ethernet capable”. The press release said that potential applications for the product include electronic warfare. This is alongside sensors, radar and network processing. The ComEth4682e is based on the company’s ComEth4582a, ComEth4590a and ComEth4591a ethernet switches: “Interface Concept has developed a high performance Layer3 switch with 10/25Gbs and 40/100Gbs Ethernet interfaces, ideally suited to be integrated in the most modern centralised systems”, the press release added.
Hawkeye 360 announced in early November that it has raised $145 million in its Series D funding round. The company operates several constellations of radio frequency sensing and geolocation satellites. It also provides RF geolocation services. The spacecraft collect a broad range of signals. These include transmissions from Very High Frequency (144 megahertz/MHz to 300MHz) radios, from marine Automatic Identification System transponders (161.975MHz to 162.025MHz), marine X-band (eight gigahertz to ten gigahertz) navigation radar and mobile satellite communications.
John Serafini, HawkEye 360’s chief executive officer, told Armada that the funding allows the company to double the number of satellite clusters it has in orbit. Each of HawkEye 360’s clusters has three satellites. The first three clusters are already in orbit. “Clusters 4, 5, 6 and 7 are all nearing completion and should be launched in 2022,” Mr. Serafini said. These will be followed by clusters 8, 9, and 10. “These are all fully financed and will be launched in 2023,” he added. The complement of ten clusters will let HawkEye 360’s satellites to revisit the same point on Earth every 30 minutes. This is a marked reduction from the three-hour revisit rates currently achievable with the clusters in orbit. The $145 million will allow the construction of clusters 11 to 20. This will reduce revisit rates yet further to ten minutes, Mr. Serafini said.
Horizon Technologies and Airborne Technologies announced they will work together on the design of ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) pods. The latter produces the SCAR pod family for day and night ISR collection. Horizon Technologies produces its FlyingFish satellite communications intelligence (SATCOMINT) electronic support measure. The two companies signed the agreement in November at the Dubai Air Show in the United Arab Emirates. The agreement will see Horizon Technologies’ BlackFish SATCOMINT system integrated into the SCAR pod family. This combination will be offered to the market from 2022, according to a Horizon Technologies press release.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has unveiled its Scorpius electronic warfare system family. Scorpius can equip sea, land and air platforms, and uses Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) architecture. Scorpius-G can equip land forces and is deployable onboard a vehicle. Scorpius-N is optimised to help protect warships from radar-guided anti-ship missiles. It can identify and attack hostile airborne and naval surveillance radars, and the radio frequency links used by uninhabited aerial vehicles. IAI has also developed an airborne pod for combat aircraft using the Scorpius architecture. The EL/L-8257SB Scorpius-T is the training system. As Armada reported in the November Spectrum SitRep, Scorpius-T supported the Israeli Air Force’s Blue Flag multinational training exercise in October.
Staying in Israel, Bird Aerosystems announced on 15th November that it had delivered self-protection systems for Mil Mi-17 series medium-lift helicopters. Specifically, the company said it had delivered AMPS-MD missile protection systems and SPREOS Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCMs). No information was provided in the official press release announcing the news concerning the AMPS-MD and SPREOS customer.
In early November, the Royal Air Force (RAF) announced a $148.4 million contract to upgrade its Beechcraft Shadow R.1 surveillance aircraft. The RAF currently flies six of these planes. Plans are afoot to increase this to eight with the price of the two new aircraft included in the contract. The announcement said that the aircraft will be outfitted with new self-protection systems. Armada understands these will include Thales’ Elix-IR missile approach warning system. This will be alongside Thales Vicon-XF countermeasures dispensers and Leonardo’s Miysis DIRCM. This modernisation effort will see the RAF redesignating the aircraft as the Shadow R.1+.
On 29th October the US Army awarded a three-year contract to Lufbarrow and Company. The contract will cover the provision of assistance to the army’s product manager, terrestrial spectrum warfare. An announcement regarding the contract stated that it will include the delivery of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technology to assist the merging of cyber warfare, EW and signals intelligence capabilities.
On 9th November, CACI was awarded a five-year contract worth up to $785 million by the US Special Operations Command. The contract covers Special Operations Forces Emerging Threats, Operations and Planning Support. A press release announcing the news said that CACI will provide “expertise in integrated information warfare and electronic warfare solutions.” No further information was provided in the press release regarding the EW expertise the company will provide.
Indra has won a contract worth $39.5 million to outfit Boeing CH-47D/F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters with new self-protection systems. These aircraft belong to the Fuerzas Aeromóviles del Ejército de Tierra (FAMET/Spanish Army Aviation). Media reports said that the CH-47s are being upgraded as part of a wider effort to convert the 17 FAMET Chinooks from the Delta to Foxtrot configuration. The upgrade is expected to finish in 2025. No details were released on exactly which self-protection systems will equip the helicopters. Reports did note, however, that these will include a new DIRCM. It is highly likely that this will be Indra’s InShield DIRCM.
Meanwhile, on 12th November, reports revealed that Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has installed a DIRCM onto the Airbus A400M Atlas strategic airlifter. The A400M is known to be outfitted with Elbit Systems’ J-MUSIC DIRCM which equips the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) aircraft. Spain’s A400Ms are protected with Indra’s InShield. The reports provided no further details on which DIRCM the aircraft would receive or which air forces’ A400Ms are receiving the DIRCM installed by TAI.
It was reported on 16th November that France’s CERES (Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatiale/Space-based Signal Intelligence Capability) satellite constellation had been launched. The three satellites were launched onboard an Avio Vega rocket from the Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana. The three satellites will collect Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) from their Low Earth Orbits (LEOs). LEO satellites typically orbit at altitudes of below 1,079 nautical miles/nm (2,000 kilometres/km). The satellites were developed by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales. Assistance was also forthcoming from France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement (General Armaments Directorate) procurement agency. As Armada reported back in 2019, the CERES satellites will supersede two existing SIGINT constellations. These are the Essaim (Swarm) and ELISA (Electronic Intelligence by Satellite) constellations.
Black Sage’s Goshawk long range electronic warfare jammer has passed an initial US Air Force evaluation. Goshawk is being evaluated to fulfill a USAF requirement to support training in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) denied environments, according to a company press release. Goshawk can jam GNSS signals used by inhabited and uninhabited military aircraft. GNSS signals typically fall within a waveband of 1.1GHz to 1.6GHz. During the evaluation, Goshawk demonstrated it could jam GNSS signals at ranges exceeding 18.9nm (35km).
Cirrus RTPS announced in mid-November that the company had been awarded a contract by the Australian government’s Defence Innovation Hub. In its own words, the Defence Innovation Hub “invests in innovative technologies that can enhance defence capability and grow the Australian defence industry and innovation sector”. Peter Freed, Cirrus RTPS’ managing director told Armada that this recent contract “does not lead to our supplying a system to the Australian Defence Force.” However, “the contract may well lead to supply contracts in the future.”
Mr. Freed added that two work strands form this contract: The first is a hardware suite of Electronic Support Measures (ESMs) based on low-cost commercial antennas and software defined radios. These ESMs will operate autonomously collecting signal of interest parameters. Data from these ESMs will be fed into the company’s Sensor Association and Fusion Engine (SAFE). SAFE will crunch the data and produces a Common Operating Picture (COP) depicting emitters of interest. “The task of fusing sensor data into a single COP is well known and well-studied,” Mr. Freed said. “What makes SAFE unique … is how it forms the COP … Conventional algorithms for sensor data fusion are very hungry for computing power.” Mr. Freed says that SAFE has a computational profile “that still grows as the number of sensor measurements needing to be processed grows, but only at a linear rate.” He says that this enables SAFE to process “a much greater number of sensor measurements. This allows comparatively lower detection thresholds to be used, in turn allowing the identification and tracking of weaker contacts.” Cirrus’ contract is expected to be completed in early 2023.
Local news reports in Greece this November accused the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK/Turkish Air Force) of violating Greek airspace. Reports claimed that 13 violations were performed by 18 THK aircraft over the Aegean Sea. These flights were said to have included CASA/Airbus CN-235 series SIGINT collection aircraft. Although not reported, it would seem certain that the CN-235s would have collected SIGINT relevant to the Hellenic Air Force’s (HAF) Integrated Air Defence System (IADS). This could include data on the HAF’s ground-based air surveillance radars and air-to-ground/ground-to-air communications.
Controversially, a Russian anti-satellite missile test destroyed Russia’s Kosmos-1408 SIGINT satellite on 15th November. The satellite was reportedly destroyed by an Almaz-Antey A-235 PL-19 Nudol surface-to-air missile. Reports state that this missile is currently under development and mooted as a replacement for Russia’s existing NPO Novator A-135 anti-ballistic missile system. Kosmos-1408 was launched on 16th September 1982. It replaced the earlier Kosmos-1378 reconnaissance satellite. Sources state that Kosmos-1408 was part of the larger Tselina-D electronic intelligence collection constellation.
by Dr. Thomas Withington