Strategic signals

Deploying electronic warfare technology for Australia's defence

As the only other current operator of the EA-18G Growler fighter, Australia is at the forefront of electronic warfare technology. (Photo: RAAF)

Combat in the electromagnetic spectrum can be the first engagement in any battle.

Decisive control of the spectrum in the earliest stages of conflict can deliver a significant advantage.

"If your kit can’t counter the evolving threat, then you are already behind the eight ball," said Darren Harris, field service representative for Raytheon Australia. Harris is a former Australian Electronic Warfare Liaison Officer, with 20 years of experience in that role.

"In the 1980s, EW was pretty basic — little more than push-to-talk jamming of tactical communications. Nowadays, our use of the spectrum has evolved enormously," said Harris. "An Australian EW advantage is particularly important in a coalition environment, where our inputs can enhance regional capability."

As the only other current operator of the EA-18G Growler fighter, the Australia Defence Force is in a co-development program with the U.S. Navy for the aircraft's Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band electronic attack technology.

"The Royal Australian Air Force is in lockstep with the Navy and Raytheon," said Dan Theisen, director of Raytheon’s Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band program. "They have a unique role in shaping the development of the system. That not only benefits Australia, but the U.S. and future coalition forces."

Because Australia has been at the forefront of EW development for several years, there are several paths available for the future of the nation's EW. That includes co-development of international systems and the creation and integration of organic, in-country systems.

One way to do this is by creating sovereign capabilities in Australia through partnerships with industry and the Ministry of Defence. In 2018, Raytheon signed an interactive project agreement, or IPA, with Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group to develop and prototype advanced EW capabilities.

At the core of the IPA is Raytheon’s Multi-Function Receiver Exciter System. Known as MFIRES, this technology can support EW for aircraft and other platforms.

Raytheon has also developed an Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool. A U.S. Army program of record since 2014, EWPMT helps navigate and control the electromagnetic spectrum in a crowded signal environment.

Raven Claw, a laptop-enabled version of EWPMT, was deployed in Europe to manage EW systems. It allows Electronic Warfare Officers to operate in the field without a host server or external data.

"Without the ability to operate freely in the electromagnetic spectrum, entire regions can be struck blind," said Stefan Baur, vice president of Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems.

Future opportunities for EW partnerships include mission planning and execution at sea, on land and in the air.

"Australia and the United States have been century-long defense partners," said Jason Nelsen, business development executive at Raytheon’s Electronic Warfare Systems. "Together we are developing new and advanced EW capabilities."


Published On: 02/25/2019
Last Updated: 02/27/2019