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Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Advances in Electronic Warfare Fly Under the Public’s Radar

Advances in Electronic Warfare Fly Under the Public’s Radar 

Stratrisks via Gov Tech

As the Pentagon moves beyond the relatively low-tech wars in the Middle East and turns its attention to future national security challenges, it has doubled down on sophisticated new radar-jamming devices that aim to render adversaries’ air defenses useless.

Although the U.S. faced limited resistance in the skies above Iraq and Afghanistan, that would not be the case in Asia, where the Obama administration plans to shift its diplomatic focus and strengthen its defense strategy in the coming decade.
China and North Korea, for example, have quietly invested in advanced sophisticated radar systems, surface-to-air missile batteries and power-projection capabilities. 

So when the Pentagon revealed its fiscal 2015 budget proposal two weeks ago, much of the attention was given to a boost in spending on drones and cybersecurity. Less heralded, but vital to U.S. strategic success, experts say, was the high-dollar investment in radar-jamming technology and other electronic warfare. 

Much of this shadowy world is top secret, but the military’s goal is to have complete control over the range of wireless frequencies at the heart of all aspects of war: satellites, radio and radar.

Jammers, for instance, are designed to identify enemy radar installations, then spew radio waves and beams of electromagnetic noise to electronically disable and destroy them. Though the technology does not result in the sort of fiery blasts produced by heat-seeking missiles or laser-guided bombs, the effect is the same.

“We are so used to dominating at sea and in the air, we don’t spend anywhere near the money we should on enablers like electronic warfare and deception and other things like that,” acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine H. Fox said this month. “That can make a huge difference. And in this budget environment, we can actually afford things like that.”

The hardware used to wage this brand of battle is rarely publicly discussed, but it’s being built at locations throughout the Los Angeles area.

Travis Slocumb, head of Raytheon Co.’s electronic warfare systems programs centered in El Segundo, said work on next-generation electronic warfare will bring together all the advancements in computer, wireless and communications technology in recent decades.

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