Armada’s monthly round-up of all the latest electronic warfare news in the product, programme and operational domains.
Mercury’s new mPOD electronic attack training system has begun final flight testing according to reports. The pod is reprogrammable. It is designed to train pilots on the jamming waveforms they may encounter from near-peer adversaries during air combat. The pod can be attached to an aircraft’s weapons stations. Alternatively, the mPOD’s architecture can be installed within an aircraft. The company says it can also be rapidly integrated with the aircraft’s cockpit display and control systems. Mercury added that it is now accepting orders for the mPOD.
WL Gore and Associates has unveiled a new 40 gigahertz/GHz Gore-Flight microwave assembly. A press release announcing the news said the product is aimed at electronic warfare users, among others. Specifically, “customers who want to transport electrical signals reliably with minimal size, weight and power.” The assemblies have been qualified to the most stringent specifications for airframe assemblies, the release continued. The company says it controls the entire manufacturing process from purchasing raw materials and creating and applying the proprietary dielectric material, through testing and shipping the final cable assembly.
The US National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has announced a request for proposals for the commercial provision of space-based Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) collection. The NRO is looking for providers using satellites to track emissions from devices or platforms emitting radio frequency energy. Plans are afoot to award contracts to selected providers towards the end of this year. The NRO’s interest in space based commercial SIGNT is unsurprising given the emergence of such services in recent years. The use of commercial SIGINT offloads some of the collection burden from dedicated government SIGINT satellites. This allows the latter to concentrate on specific missions while routine SIGINT is collected via the private sector.
Looking toward Australia, Canberra has approved the conversion of several Thales Bushmaster armoured vehicles into electronic warfare platforms for the Australian Army. The initiative falls under the army’s Project Land 555 Phase 6 programme. The conversion will be performed by Raytheon’s Australian subsidiary. More details on the Project Land-555 Phase-6 programme can be found here in one of Armada’s previous articles.
Elbit Systems announced via a press release on 14th July that it will provide its J-MUSIC Direction Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) to the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (RNAF/Royal Netherlands Air Force). The DIRCM will be installed on the RNAF’s forthcoming Gulfstream G-650 jet. The air force has a single platform on order that will be used to transport of dignitaries. The G-650 replaces the Gulfstream-IV currently used by the RNAF for this mission. Alongside J-MUSIC, the aircraft will receive Elbit’s IR-PAWS infrared missile approach warning system.
On 13th July, the US Army announced the conclusion of an agreement with Lockheed Martin to support a manufacturing proof of concept for the force’s forthcoming Terrestrial Layer System – Brigade Combat Team. This will equip US Army brigade combat teams with a combined cyber and electronic warfare capability housed onboard a General Dynamics M-1133 variant of the Stryker armoured fighting vehicle. A US Army press release said the agreement is worth $58.8 million and will conclude in October 2023. It will cover prototype systems integrated onto M-1133 vehicles which are ready for operational assessment. These vehicles will constitute the first units to be delivered to the army’s manoeuvre force.
The Barents Observer reported in early July that an increase in Global Navigation Satellite Signal (GNSS) jamming has been detected in north-eastern Norway. The jamming was blamed on Russia and affected civilian aircraft flying over this part of the country. It is believed to emanate from Pechenga, a town in Russia just over eleven kilometres (six miles) from the Russo-Norwegian border. The surrounding area is home to the Russian Army’s 200th Motorised Rifle Brigade. It is also the base for Russia’s 61st Naval Infantry Brigade. The report said that GNSS jamming is more frequent than previously encountered in this region. GNSS jamming has been observed in north-eastern Norway since 2017. Russia is known to deploy GNSS jammers to protect militarily- or strategically-important sites. This is done to help safeguard them against potential attack by GNSS-guided ordnance.
Elsewhere in Europe, Russian news sources say the country’s armed forces have deployed the Stupor Counter-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (CUAV) device in the Ukraine theatre of operations. Stupor is a handheld directional jammer with a rifle-like design. The user aims it towards a UAV and shoots a jamming beam. This disables the radio link connecting the UAV to its operator. Reports say the weapon was first seen at defence exhibitions in Russian in 2017. The apparatus has a reported range of 1.1 nautical miles (two kilometres). It can jam radio links connecting the aircraft to the pilot on frequencies of 2.4GHz or five gigahertz, along with Global Navigation Satellite System signals. Stupor is thought to be deployed in the western part of the Russian-occupied Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. It may be used to protect troops at the tactical edge from UAVs, along with defending point targets. More details on the electronic war against UAVs in Ukraine can be found this Armada article.
by Dr. Thomas Withington