Adaptive Electronic Warfare - the Future of Electronic Warfare

Adaptive EW – the Future of Electronic Warfare

Feb 2, 2017

The world of Electronic Warfare (EW) is rapidly evolving from the analog technologies developed in the 1960’s to small, handheld digital technologies such as Disruptor SRx. As Harris continues to innovate disruptive technologies, we are on the forefront of the next generation of EW – adaptive EW.

What exactly is adaptive EW?

“Adaptive EW is actually a very broad term that encompasses any application of artificial intelligence to the EW problem set. Due to the broad definition, there can be multiple technologies at play at once to instantiate and realize any particular adaptive EW system,” said Anthony Nigara, Director Electronic Warfare Mission Solutions.

The worldwide proliferation of advanced digital radar and communication systems has caused a shift in the way traditional EW is executed and therefore developed the need for more advanced EW solutions. As communication and radar systems become more and more digital, and therefore software-defined, their behaviors and characteristics can be modified at a much more rapid pace than ever before, hence the need for EW systems that can adapt their response in real-time.

Adaptive systems manage information differently than the analog technologies of the past. The most basic way that adaptive systems differ from earlier generations of EW systems is in the use of pre-programmed information. Traditional EW systems rely on pre-programmed databases of signal characteristics that describe the intended radars and/or communication systems that they are to identify and respond to. Adaptive EW systems, in contrast, are able to utilize both pre-programmed signal characteristic information and what they observe in real-time from the radars and communication systems in order to complete their intended mission.

Adaptive EW is mostly enabled today via software algorithms and enhancements, but there are potential benefits if an EW system utilizes a hardware architecture built specifically for adaptive EW. In general, adaptive EW systems benefit from modern hardware that supports complex signal processing techniques and can handle a high level of complex processing operations in real-time. However, upgrades to legacy EW systems and new generation systems are possible, although applicability and success varies by the particulars of the legacy EW system.

The most important people in the world of EW continue to be the warfighter. Adaptive EW provides distinct battlefield and operational advantages. One dominant operational benefit is that adaptive EW provides a direct response to adversarial threats, radar and communication systems to ensure EW systems remain current. A potential longer-term benefit of adaptive EW is a decrease in the timelines for programming EW systems and the associated testing and re-validation required before a new capability can be deployed to the warfighter. As these adaptive EW systems get fielded and their capabilities are fully explored in operation and become a trusted technology by the EW community, adaptive EW has the potential to fundamentally alter how EW is conducted from development, to logistics, to operational employment.

Harris continues to innovate technologies designed to connect, inform and protect our warfighters. Adaptive EW is next generation innovation that will keep us one step ahead of our adversaries.