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Electronic Warfare

Electronic Warfare_082522A
[Electronic Warfare - US Department of Defense]


- Electronic Warfare 

Defeating a threat long before it is detected can provide armed forces in the air, on the water, on the ground, and even in space, a critical advantage in combat. Providing critical advantages to support the mission is what electronic warfare (EW) is all about. Electronic warfare (EW) is any operation that involves the use of the electromagnetic spectrum (EM spectrum) or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or prevent an enemy attack. 

The purpose of electronic warfare is to deprive an adversary of an advantage -- and to ensure friendly unhindered access to -- the electromagnetic spectrum. Electronic warfare can be applied from air, sea, land, and/or space through manned and unmanned systems, and can target communications, radar, or other military and civilian assets.


- Electromagnetic Warfare (EW)

Electromagnetic warfare, commonly referred to as electronic warfare (EW), is defined by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as "any military operation involving the use of electromagnetic and directed energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum or attack an adversary."

A more precise definition is a military or intelligence operation that uses all or part of the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) (radio waves, microwaves, millimeter waves, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays) to detect operations or communications, prevent enemy activity, Communicate and/or deny adversaries use of these signals.


- Three Subcategories of Electromagnetic Warfare

The Electromagnetic Spectrum_NASA_101821A
[The electromagnetic spectrum from lowest energy/longest wavelength (at the top) to highest energy/shortest wavelength (at the bottom). (Credit: NASA's Imagine the Universe)]

This advanced functionality is generally divided into three subcategories:

  • Electronic Support (ES), which is the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) function of electromagnetic warfare. This part of the mission is to sense, intercept, identify, and track electromagnetic energy sources to identify threats, collect targeting (geolocation) and signals intelligence data, and inform future operational planning.
  • Electronic protection (EP) is a form of threat suppression that uses a range of cyber and multispectral radio frequency/infrared (RF/IR) tools to prevent electronic warfare receivers from being jammed or spoofed by an adversary's electronic attack (EA). It also prevents "overflow" jamming signals from nearby friendly forces from accidentally interrupting the signal.
  • Electronic Attack (EA), analyzing threats and calculating responses. This portion of the mission uses EMS (Electromagnetic Spectrum) signals, directed energy pulses, or combined network effects to disrupt, deny, degrade, deceive, and otherwise neutralize enemy hostile electromagnetic actions. These attacks are typically carried out by advanced electronic warfare jets or helicopter platforms, but can also be carried out by unmanned vehicles, ships, ground vehicles, etc.

While many technology companies claim electromagnetic spectrum expertise, successful development, deployment, and maintenance of advanced, continuously updated electronic warfare technologies on time requires state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and global ES, EP, and EA mission support capabilities. This has become more true than ever with the proliferation of DoD performance requirements in recent years.

- Directed Energy Weapon (DEW)

A directed energy weapon (DEW) is a long-range weapon that destroys its target with a highly concentrated energy, including lasers, microwaves, particle beams, and acoustic beams, in the absence of a solid projectile. Potential applications for the technology include weapons against personnel, missiles, vehicles and optical equipment.

- The Starlink Constellation as a Platform for Emerging U.S. Warfare Concepts 

According to a translation of the research paper provided by David Cowhig's Translation Blog, the Chinese researchers believe that the U.S. military can use the Starlink constellation as a platform to improve and enhance the flexibility of space-based systems and anti-destructive capabilities. 

At the same time, the U.S. military can also use the Starlink constellation as a platform for emerging U.S. warfare concepts typically represented by mosaic warfare. 

The study defines mosaic warfare as a new type of combat that arbitrarily combines standardized functional units of a large number of smaller single-function combat elements with uncrewed, autonomous systems to build an adaptable and flexible kill network that can be adjusted promptly according to the demands of the battlefield. 

It also argues that Starlink could have seamless all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance capability, space-based target detection and/or suppression capabilities, and broadband communication capabilities that could aid the U.S. military on the battlefield if they can modify the satellites within the constellation.



[More to come ...]



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