Electronic warfare is where it’s at
today in aerospace and defense
Analysts and budget numbers have
been telling us for many months that
electronic warfare (EW) represents
one of the most promising opportunities for aerospace and defense technology in this era of shrinking Defense Department bank accounts.
If I wasn’t a believer before, then I
surely am now. I can’t remember another time when EW technology was
as prominent in the headlines as it
has been for the past few months.
In fact, the entire notion of EW
seems to be evolving to include not
only traditional forms like RF communications and radar jamming, but
also the relatively new discipline of
cyber warfare to protect U.S. and allied computers and attack and disable
enemy computers and data networks.
A new term is cropping up—
spectrum warfare—which includes traditional EW, but adds optical warfare,
navigation warfare, and cyber warfare. Some future systems, for example, not only will be able to use
RF transmitters to jam enemy radar
and communications, but also insert
viruses and other destructive computer code into enemy systems to
spoof or disable them.
The current flood of U.S. military
EW and spectrum warfare activity
started heating up at the end of May
and beginning of June with U.S. Navy
contracts to Lockheed Martin and
General Dynamics for a shipboard
EW project called the Surface Elec-
tronic Warfare Improvement Pro-
gram (SEWIP). The contracts to those
companies for the first and second
segments of the project were worth
more than $60 million. SEWIP is in
place to upgrade surface warship EW
defenses against cruise missiles and
other radar threats.
On 8 July came a quarter-billion-dollar contract to the Raytheon Co.
Space and Airborne Systems segment in McKinney, Texas, to build
the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) to
enable the EA-18G Growler carrier-based jet to jam enemy radar, communications, and other RF systems.
Only a day later came a contract from the Naval Research Lab
in Washington to the ITT Exelis
Electronic Systems division in Van
Nuys, Calif., to develop an add-on
advanced EW system to protect surface warships from a newly discovered, yet undisclosed, immediate
threat to Navy fleet operations.
Following quickly, on 11 July, came
the announcement of contracts, collectively worth nearly $74 million
and awarded to six companies, for
the DARPA Foundational Cyberwar-fare (Plan X) project to conduct research into the nature of cyber warfare, and to develop strategies to
seize and maintain U.S. cyber security and cyber-attack dominance.
Finally, an Air Force research project, the Advanced Novel Spectrum
Warfare Environment Research program, will launch this month to
develop adaptive spectrum warfare
technologies to enable warfighting
in contested and denied areas. Now
we’re seeing just how important EW
really is in this day and age. Í
2 AUGUST 2013 MILITARY & AEROSPACE ELECTRONICS