DOD steps up the search for electronic warfare tools

The military services are looking for innovative ways to improve EW capabilities and blend them with cyber operations.

Pentagon officials have pointed out lately that the military services, while focusing so much of the past 14 years in the fairly uncontested electromagnetic spectrum environments of Iraq and Afghanistan, have fallen behind somewhat in new technologies in electronic warfare.

But that has been changing, particularly as the focus shifts to more technologically proficient counties such as Russia and China. Defense Department CIO Terry Halvorsen recently said that DOD would consider declaring the spectrum a sixth domain of warfare, to go along with land, air. Sea, space and cyberspace. Meanwhile, the military has been working boosting its electronic warfare capabilities and blending cyber and EW operations.

In another sign of the spectrum’s growing importance, the military services in the past week have issued no fewer than four notices looking for innovative technologies for both offensive and defensing EW operations that combine with a cyber component.

Here’s a look at the most recent solicitations, several of which are in the early stages.

Air Force Research Laboratory

Full Spectrum Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Cyber Operations Technology

AFRL Information Directorate is looking for white papers on ways to expand its cyber operations technologies involving full spectrum signals intelligence (SIGINT) and EW within DOD. Among the focus areas are better coordination of activities where SIGINT, EW and cyber technologies intersect, according to a presolicitation announcement.

 AFRL said it’s particularly interested in experimental technologies and new ideas involving machine learning, mission platforms, and spectrum issues with regard to cyber operations. “Projects specializing in highly novel, interesting, and applicable techniques will also be considered if deemed to be of ‘breakthrough’ quality and importance,” according to the announcement.

The presolicitation does not include a response date.

Air Force Research Laboratory

Cyber/Electronic Warfare Applications

In a pre-announcement notice, AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate said it is looking for ways to use high power electromagnetics, or HREM, to enhance cyber and electronic warfare concepts. HPEM is associated with such things as electromagnetic pulses and directed-energy weapons such as lasers. Although the military is developing lasers as weapons against drones and small boats, HPEM also can be used to disable electronics and jam signals.

The notice points out that combining the “somewhat independent” capabilities of HPEM, cyber and EW has resulted in innovate ways to apply single- and multi-shot HPEM technology, as well as specialized waveform technologies.

AFRL in May released a broader solicitation looking for ways to use HPEM in six areas, saying it would follow up with separate solicitations for each of the six. Cyber and EW concepts covers one of those areas.  

Army

Radar Electronic Countermeasure System Requirements Study

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s  Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center has issued a Request for Information looking for the latest in functional self-protection radar electronic countermeasure (ECM) systems for both rotary-wing and special electronic mission aircraft.

CERDEC also is interested in less-mature but innovative systems that could be candidates for further research and development. Possible ECM systems for the Army could come with integrated electronic support capabilities or, for rotary-wing aircraft, make use of the existing APR-39D(V)2 Digital/Modernized Radar Warning Receiver. The RFI notes that the Army is particularly interested in open architectures that comply with Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE), Modular Open RF Architecture (MORA), and VICTORY standards.

Responses to the RFI are due by Jan. 30, 2016.

Navy

Cyber Warfare Detachment

The Naval Air Systems Command is looking for full-spectrum cyber warfare capabilities for the Navy’s aircraft, related aviation systems (including data links, communications and networks) and weapons systems. Key to its strategy for Cyber Warfare Detachment, or CWD, is to protect the access points to its weapons systems, allowing them to function in contested environments, and to develop and path for procuring cyber-hardened systems in the future, according to its solicitation.

As with other solicitations, NAVAIR is looking for innovation, saying it will consider non-traditional sources in addition to traditional DOD vendors. Its plan for CWD also includes developing the cyber workforce and improving its infrastructure, along with implementing the Navy’s CYBERSAFE program, and the DOD Risk Management Framework, among other measures.

Responses to the solicitation are due by July 13, 2016.

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