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Industry News

Should the Electromagnetic Spectrum be Defined as a Defense Domain?

August 10, 2011
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Electromagnetic Spectrum Domain Priority
Electronic Warfare uses the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) in three roles across air, sea, and land warfare domains; Electronic Attack (EA), Electronic Protection (EP), and Electronic Warfare Support (ES).

  • Electronic Attack (EA) involves the use of EM energy to attack enemy forces, facilities and equipment with the intent of degrading, neutralizing or destroying capabilities including communications, radar and EW.

  • Electronic Protection (EP) is defined as the protection of friendly forces from inadvertent impacts of both friendly and enemy use of EMS.

  • Electronic Warfare Support (ES) involves the active searching, interception and locating of EM energy, be it intentional or otherwise. This then supports immediate threat recognition as well as enabling the targeting, planning and conduct of operations.

Regardless of the roles and domains in which Electronic Warfare is employed, communications is a crucial foundation for the successful use of EW systems, and MilSatComs will play an increasingly important role in both traditional and asymmetric warfare scenarios.

Examples include the use MilSatComs to provide a beyond-line-of-sight linkage between ground forces requesting air EW strikes and airborne platforms circling elsewhere that need to be quickly dispatched to the combat location, backup against EW attacks on terrestrial ground communications, the incorporation of IED detection capabilities combined with MilSatComs as UAV platforms become relay nodes and the use of MilSatComs to allow joint coordination of MNF (multinational forces) units at the tactical level (air, sea, and ground), whether for EW or kinetic warfare.

As we move forward, the strategic importance of MilSatComs for EW operations will increase though there are several recommendations that will need to be successfully implemented over the next decade to ensure full efficacy.

Strategy Analytics believes there is currently a "perception deficit", with the electronic warfare domain not commanding the same cachet as cyberspace. So, while countries such as the US are developing Electromagnetic Battlefield Management (EMBM) systems within a net-centric doctrine, the lack of awareness around EMS usage has the potential to hamstring successful implementation of combined MilSatCom EW strategy, especially if this results in a failure to balance budgetary pressures with on-going technology development. So perhaps it’s time to recognize the EMS as a separate defense domain as well?

Contract Awards
As we review the contracts for July, the importance of the electromagnetic spectrum as it is used across radar, EW, communications as well as EO-IR applications is also clear. International activity provided the largest contract awards for July with Thales and Dassault involved in a deal worth about $1.42 B as part of India's plans to upgrade its Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft fleet. Meanwhile the UK has signed a deal worth $1 B with the US Government for three RC-135W Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF). The MoU establishes a cooperative agreement through to 2025 for the support of the UK Rivet Joint system while also partially bridging the gap in capabilities between the decommissioned Nimrod R1s and the introduction of the RAF's new aircraft.

The increasing pace of AESA-based capability deployment was also being demonstrating with Northrop Grumman's RQ-4B Block 40 Global Hawk completing its first full system flight with the high performance AN/ZPY-2, also referred to as the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor. This will deliver long range, very high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR), ground moving target indicator (GMTI) capabilities and air target tracking. The flight took place at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, on July 21.

On the weapons systems front, Raytheon was awarded a contract modification for engineering and technical services in support of the MK15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System. The contract combines purchases for the United States government and the governments of Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

Harris continued to dominate contracting activity in the communications sector with several contract awards totaling over $76 M with the Falcon III AN/PRC-117G featuring prominently amongst the orders for Falcon II and Falcon III variants. Meanwhile NovelSat is claiming to have the solution to the growing problem of MilSatCom bandwidth constraints with its NS3 satellite transmission modulation technology that the company claims can improve satellite bandwidth by up to 78%.

On the component front, Hittite unveiled several products that included aerospace and defense amongst the target applications. TriQuint also unveiled a high-linearity power amplifier designed using the firm’s GaAs power pHEMT production process to operate at 10–12 GHz for X-band communication applications.

TriQuint also announced the appointment of a new VP for its Defense and Aerospace business. James Klein was most recently with Raytheon in the Space and Airborne Systems division and responsible for design and manufacturing of advanced RF and microwave subsystems and components. He’ll be working with TriQuint's current VP and General Manager of Defense and Aerospace, Thomas Cordner during a transitionary phase before Mr. Cordner retires after a successful career. We wish Tom the best of luck in his future endeavours.

Finally, M/A-COM Tech, announced that the Multifunction Phased Array Radar (MPAR) Panel has been named as one of R&D Magazines’ 2011 R&D 100 Winners. Co-developed by M/A-COM Tech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory under sponsorship from the Federal Aviation Administration,the MPAR Phased Array Panel is the enabling system building block for an advanced, scalable multifunction radar system offering improved performance and added efficiency in the field of air traffic control and weather radar.

Recent Articles by Asif Anwar, Program Director, Strategy Analytics

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