Armada’s monthly round-up of all the latest electronic warfare news in the product, programme and operational domains.
In late January, Concurrent Technologies unveiled its new 3U VPX Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) plug-in card. A company press release announcing the news says the product is “designed in alignment with the SOSA (Sensor Open Systems Architecture) Technical Standard, PR A11/61d-RCR”. The card is for systems which need resilient PNT information when GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) signals may be jammed. The press release stated that the card is free of restrictions under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Concurrent Technologies has collaborated with Racelogic in the card’s design. “In periods of GNSS denial or jamming, accurate PNT data continues to be provided by utilising signals from a built-in inertial measurement unit and sophisticated Kalman filtering techniques,” the press release continued. Julian Thomas, managing director of Racelogic said in the press release that “we have provided Concurrent Technologies with a solution that enables their 3U VPX plug-in card to provide PNT information during long periods of GNSS denial to fit the needs of the defence community”.
New products are in the offing in the naval signals intelligence domain. D-TA Systems has launched its MFEL-5000 Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) collection system. The company’s product brochure says this can be deployed on surface vessels, uninhabited vehicles and on land. Latter applications could see the MFEL-5000 deployed to coastal locations to gather ELINT in littoral areas, for example. The MFEL-5000 family includes three variants: The MFEL-5000 GSN is intended for ground or surface deployment. It uses either omnidirectional or spinning direction-finding antennas. Covering a waveband of 500 megahertz/MHz to 18 gigahertz/GHz, this can be optionally increased to 40GHz. An instantaneous bandwidth of 500MHz is available which can be expanded to one gigahertz. The MFEL-5000 USV equips uninhabited surface vehicles. It uses between four and eight receivers and covers wavebands of two gigahertz to 18GHz, with 500MHz of instantaneous bandwidth. Finally, the MFEL-5000 AUV can equip Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Although it covers a 500MHz to 18GHz waveband, this can be extended to 40GHz. Like the MFEL-5000 UAV it has 500MHz of instantaneous bandwidth.
Looking towards the air domain, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems announced via Twitter in February the completion of the development of its SkyShield electronic attack system. The social media announcement said that SkyShield was now undergoing flight tests “for an undisclosed customer”. The company’s official literature says the system is available in two configurations. The first uses two wing-mounted pods each weighing 770 pounds/lb (350 kilograms/kg). The second uses a single ventral fuselage pod weighing 1,540lb (700kg). The literature says that SkyShield can detect and jam threats across wavebands of one gigahertz to 18GHz.
Rohde & Schwarz announced via a press release on 14th February the launch of its new ADD557SR direction-finding and monitoring antenna. The company says this product covers a bandwidth of 20 megahertz to six gigahertz for vertical and horizontal polarisations. The press release continued that the ADD557SR “incorporates a separate antenna output that can be used independently of direction-finding in both polarisations over a wide frequency range.” It said that “this helps focus on certain signals in the spectrum or suppresses unwanted emissions.” The antenna can be employed for static and mobile applications on land, at sea and in the air. Moreover, the ADD557SR can determine the bearings of multiple emissions on the same frequency. “It can detect signals in the spectrum that other emissions have concealed and spot signals undetectable to other direction finders.”
Radio Reconnaissance Technologies has launched its THiEF-V2 body-worn radio direction-finding system. The company’s official literature says this weighs under one kilogram (two pounds). This body-worn equipment is designed to be used by dismounted troops. That said, its small size means it can also be used for mounted applications. For example, it could equip light vehicles thus providing a mobile COMINT capability. Covering High Frequency (HF – three to 30MHz) to Ultra High Frequency (UHF – 300MHz to three gigahertz) the company says THiEF-V2 provides up to 14 hours’ operation. The product uses an Android-based operating system. Emitter location information is presented on a Google Maps-style display. The literature continues that the product can be programmed for single channel, search or scan tasks. It has a choice of direction-finding or homing modes. All emitter information is automatically and continuously recorded and stored on a 32-gigabit micro secure digital memory card. Nick Hoben, Radio Reconnaissance Technologies’ president, told Armada that “to the best of our knowledge, THiEF is the smallest RDF (Radio Direction Finding) system on the market that can provide Lines of Bearing (LOBs) on frequencies from the higher HF through lower UHF bands.” Multiple THiEF-V2 systems can be networked “to provide lines-of-bearings to multiple emitters simultaneously or geo-location data on a single emitter.”
Epirus debuted its new Leonidas electronic attack pod via a press release in mid-February. The company claims this product is a “first-to-market, solid-state, multiple shot high-power microwave system”. It continued that the pod complements the firm’s existing ground-based electronic attack systems. These provide 360-degree protection against incoming RF threats. Such threats include UAVs which may be carrying explosives. The pod allows similar protection to be deployed in a mobile capacity either unilaterally, or alongside other systems. Epirus said the pod can be ready for use in minutes and equip a small UAV. Leonidas can provide either continuous jamming or be activated when a threat appears, the latter mode helping conserve battery life.
In mid-February the US Navy awarded contracts worth $250 million to a quintet of companies to develop new electronic warfare threat simulators. Alion Science and Technology, Amentum, Leidos, Saab and SRC were the firms selected. According to reports, the simulators will help train naval aviators regarding electromagnetic threats they may encounter during deployments. According to the US Department of Defence, the contract is scheduled for completion in February 2027.
Staying in the US, in early February, thedrive.com reported that the US Army had tested a new counter-cyberattack system onboard the General Dynamics M1A2 main battle tank. The report revealed that the testing took place during an exercise at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona in September 2021. An M1A2 was outfitted with Peraton’s MIL-STD-1553 serial databus defender. This protects the tank’s databus against cyber attacks which could spread to its subsystems. The report said the equipment was tested using simulated cyberattacks and that it acquitted itself well. Operational tests of the serial bus defender are expected to commence soon.
The US Navy’s Naval Postgraduate School announced in mid-February that it had completed a foundational study on the convergence of cyber and electronic warfare. Held at the classified level, the study identified “a roadmap to meet the technological and acquisitional challenges inherent in ensuring American dominance across the future Electromagnetic Spectrum.” It is expected the study will influence future US Navy acquisitions in these domains over the coming five years and beyond. The study also flagged potential doctrinal and resource gaps, with recommendations on how these could be addressed. Participants in the study included military and civilian practitioners and academics.
The UK government has announced a competition covering Advanced Radio Frequency Sensing, Integrated Effects and Position Navigation and Timing (PNT). The competition has been launched by the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA). DASA is a Ministry of Defence initiative which “finds and funds” technological innovation potentially contributing to UK defence and security. In DASA’s own words the competition “seeks to find disruptive innovations that enhance our approach to delivering pervasive, resilient Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and agile effects, supported by PNT as a service.” These innovations will feed into the UK military’s future defence and security electromagnetic posture. The competition is looking at distributed radio frequency sensing using radar and electronic surveillance. This will support ISR and targeting. Dismounted, pod-mounted or vehicle-mounted solutions will be considered. Between 15 and 20 proposals could receive a share of $3.7 million of funding. More information on the initiative can be found here.
The Russian government refused demands from its Israeli counterpart in early February to stop jamming Global Navigation Satellite Signals (GNSSs). The Israeli government accused Russia of performing GNSS spoofing reportedly affecting civilian air traffic using Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. This is believed to have been caused by electronic warfare systems the Russian armed forces deployed to protect its presence at Khmeimim airbase on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Israel’s demands were rejected by the Russian government. The latter said that GNSS jamming systems were deployed at Khmeimim to protect its deployment. The spoofing may have been performed by Russian Army KRET R-330Z Zhitel jammers. These cover wavebands of 1.1GHz to 1.6GHz encompassing those used by GNSS satellites. Spoofing is almost certainly performed to prevent UAVs dependent on GNSS navigation flying over or near the base. The spoofing may also be used to degrade the ability of GNSS-guided ordnance to target the facility.
by Dr. Thomas Withington