Jam Time: Five electrifying facts about electronic warfare

Raytheon has been chosen to develop the U.S. Navy's Next Generation Jammer

Electronic warfare is the term used to describe how pilots and ground forces use radar, radio signals, decoys and other measures to confuse and thwart the enemy. Many of its most prominent experts belong to the Association of Old Crows, an international professional organization founded in 1964. In honor of the group’s 51st annual symposium, Raytheon presents five interesting facts about the field of electronic warfare.

1. “old crow” is not an insult.

Electronic warfare specialists are called "old crows." The nickname dates to World War II, when the code name for electronic warfare operators was "Raven."

Andrew Marcum

Raytheon's Andrew Marcum uses a spectrum analyzer at Purdue University to examine a radio signal. A signal generator on top of the analyzer is used to inject interference.

2. Diamonds are an electronic warrior's best friend.

Diamonds conduct heat better than metal, making them ideal for cooling high-powered jammers and radios. Raytheon grows diamond discs like this one for making components.

Raytheon manufactures diamond plates

Raytheon manufactures diamond plates to conduct heat away from the components in its advanced radar technology.

3. one danger detector was designed on a paper napkin.

Radar warning receivers tell pilots when the enemy is targeting their aircraft. One of the first designs for this lifesaving tool was written on a napkin by Raytheon engineer Stan Hall. Here’s how that happened

radar warning receiver

Electronic-warfare pioneer Stan Hall devised an early design for the radar warning receiver.

4. This "Little Buddy" will take a bullet for you.

The object trailing the plane in this photo is the AN/ALE-50 towed decoy, more commonly known by its nickname, “Little Buddy.” Missiles hate them. Pilots love them. Learn more.

AN/ALE-50 Towed Decoy System

The AN/ALE-50 Towed Decoy System has protected warfighters from missiles in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

5. Secure radios have roots in Hollywood.

Frequency hopping – a technique to prevent communications from being intercepted – has its roots in Hollywood’s Golden Age period. Hedy Kiesler Markey -- better known as silver-screen star Hedy Lamarr -- co-patented the technique along with composer George Antheil. They used the roll from a player piano to program the device. Here’s how they did it.

This is one of the drawings Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil submitted in their patent application for a frequency-hopping device.

This is one of the drawings Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil submitted in their patent application for a frequency-hopping device.

Published On: 10/06/2014
Last Updated: 12/07/2017