The US Army wants to regain the advantage in electronic warfare

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An issue of strategic competition for decades, electronic warfare is however very little known except for a few hand-picked specialists. While data processing and high-speed communications have become major areas of development for the majority of modern armies, electronic warfare capabilities, whether offensive or defensive, have long been ignored by Western armies. because they represented a minimal stake in the low-intensity and counter-insurgency conflicts they faced for 20 years.

Conversely, Russia, as a worthy heir to the already very dynamic Soviet doctrine in terms of electronic warfare, has continued to modernize its tools and doctrines, and has tested them during engagements on a recurring basis, whether either in Chechnya, in Georgia, more recently in Donbass and in Syria, as well as during exercises and maneuvers near NATO borders. And Russian determination seems to be paying off since today, the US Army is forced to urgently develop several programs to try to regain the advantage in the areas of electronic and digital warfare which conditions all commitments. modern medium and high intensity systems today.

Among the programs under development, the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool, or EWPMT, seems the most promising to provide a medium-term response to the urgent needs of US forces. Developed at the request of the US command of forces deployed in Europe from 2014, the EWPMT by Raytheon is an open system that collects and merges data from individual VMAX or VROD vehicle equipment, and controls Saber Fury jamming systems, to control the defensive and offensive electromagnetic environment on the battlefield. It can also call on fire support systems to eliminate electromagnetic or cyber threats.

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VMAX US Army Defense News | Communication and Defense Networks | Defense Contracts and Calls for Tenders
The VMAX Portable Electronic Warfare System weighs, batteries included, 35 kg

But unlike the Russian systems which already equip units in large numbers, the EWPMT is still only in the development phase, and is not expected to enter service for several years. As such, the General Administration Organization, or GAO, the equivalent of the accounting court in the United States, ruled in 2018 that the US Army's effort in the field of electronic and digital warfare was noticeably lacking in resources, particularly human, at the risk of rendering all of the US Army's capabilities ineffective.

The observed disconnection of the US Army from Russia in the field of electronic warfare is particularly highlighted by its efforts to try to implement countermeasures against the jamming of GPS signals carried out by Russia, and in particular against Spoofing operations, consisting of deriving the precision of GPS location. The effectiveness of Russian systems in this particular area no longer needs to be demonstrated, and even seems to have been exported, since thedestruction of the RQ-4 drone by the Iranian Anti-Aircraft Defense in June appears to be linked to an altered GPS signal. However, GPS has today become an essential tool for the use of a large number of equipment, whether for the navigation of vehicles or aircraft, or for the guidance of precision munitions.

To overcome this threat, American and Western engineers are urgently developing several solutions, ranging from the coupling of guidance systems with an inertial system, to the carriage of miniaturized atomic clocks opting to take over if it were to notice a discrepancy with the signals transmitted in the GPS frame. The US Army is also developing, for its infantrymen, a portable inertial system comparable to a pedometer, to detect abnormal differences between the GPS signal received and the data from the inertial unit. Indeed, Spoofing is difficult to detect for the system that is the victim. Once informed of the unreliability of the GPS signal, personnel can then resort to other forms of location and navigation, certainly less precise in absolute terms, but insensitive to adverse interference. The Map and the compass still have a bright future ahead of them!

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Borisoglebsk 2 spoofing Electronic warfare russia Defense News | Communication and Defense Networks | Defense Contracts and Calls for Tenders
The Russian Borisoglebsk 2 electronic warfare system makes it possible to work over a very wide frequency spectrum, and in particular seems to be able to alter GPS signals (spoofing)

If Russia, China, and therefore the United States, are now all engaged in a form of technological race in the field of electronic and digital warfare, we can only notice the lack of consideration of this area in the European armies, and particularly in the French armies. As for Close Anti-Aircraft Defense (SHORAD), anti-radar systems, or active protection systems for armored vehicles, support for forces in the field of electronic warfare is one of the major absences from the LPM 3-2019 , further weaken, if necessary, the engagement capabilities of French forces in terms of high intensity combat. Difficult, in these conditions, to judge the intentions of the Balts, Poles, Czechs or Romanians, who favor cooperation with American forces through their acquisitions, given the flagrant failures of the major European military forces in areas that affect high intensity, like electronic warfare…

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