Creating a cloaking device
Cognitive electronic warfare will power new jamming techniques
It’s Star Trek made real.
Today’s jammers use radio frequencies to create a virtual “cloaking device,” rendering fighter jets effectively invisible to adversary radars. But radar technology is advancing quickly and the spectrum is becoming increasingly congested with new signals.
“Jammers must be smart enough to counter threat advances by instantaneously recognizing signals –even if they morph on the fly– and immediately generate the waveforms to effectively jam them,” said Dan Theisen, director, Airborne Electronic Attack at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems. “Systems must be able to learn and react during an engagement; true, cognitive EW.”
Engineers are working on cognitive EW solutions to create jammers that can interpret radar signals and adapt quickly to keep aircraft hidden.
The future of jamming depends on how quickly systems can “learn," building on the existing level of information. Raytheon is creating a jammer with more robust algorithms that can deal with unexpected threats.
Raytheon, with decades of experience producing jammers, decoys and other electronic warfare products, is now building on such breakthroughs as its own gallium nitride-based circuitry, which can provide substantially more power in smaller packages than previous technologies.
The company has already made significant progress in developing the fundamental building blocks of a cognitive system. Engineers are rapidly creating techniques and developing innovative solutions to overcome agile radars and handle uncertain and noisy inputs.
Software capability has evolved to the point where systems can now address input signals that were not pre-programmed.
Artificial intelligence is on the horizon.
Jamming induces misdirection and deception, and it works well when you know what you’re facing. But modern radars have become smarter and can counter legacy jamming systems, making them less reliable.
One of the tricks jammers play is to create a signal that deceives a radar as to the actual location it's coming from. However, sophisticated adversaries with advanced air defense systems can examine signals from different perspectives and determine whether they are likely to be false.
“We’ve got to put our long-term thinking cap on to stay ahead,” said Theisen. “The future is about spectrum manipulation, and the electronic tools that you need to defend or prosecute a mission.”
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