JED - February 2017 - 30

The Journal of Electronic Defense | February 2017


bilities (up to the Ka- (26.5 to 40 GHz)
band), a high degree of automation,
and a downlink for the transmission of
acquired data to a ground station for
While continuing in service, the
Hawker 800SIG is becoming somewhat
long-in-the-tooth and, in August 2010,
local media sources began to report
South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) as being
set to issue a request for proposals for
a new generation SIGINT aircraft that
would incorporate "more advanced signal and communications intelligence
equipment" than the 800SIG. As such,
the intent was said to have been to
acquire two such aircraft that would
be equipped with either a LIG Nex1 or
Samsung Thales-sourced mission suite.
Here, the system specification was
billed as including "communication,
electronic and foreign instrumentation signals intelligence" sub-systems
installed aboard either a Gulfstream
Aerospace or Bombardier airframe,
with system integration to be carried
out by either Korea Aerospace Industries or South Korean flag-carrier Korean Air. Subsequently (and while the
foregoing appears to have been too ambitious in terms of available funding
and local ability to deliver the required
collection capabilities), December 2011
saw France's Agence France-Presse (AFP)
press agency reporting DAPA as having
announced that it was procuring two
Dassault Falcon 2000 aircraft for use as
COMINT platforms and as a means of detecting North Korean missile launches.
Again, the AFP account suggested that
the new aircraft would be acquired during 2017, and would replace "some of
South Korea's aging spy aircraft including [its] RC-800s..." At the time of writing, such a procurement had not been
Before leaving the Pacific region's
confirmed airborne SIGINT assets to
look at those that are rumored and/or
not confirmed, it is worth mentioning
that Russia continues to be active in

the field and intermittently flies Il20M and Tu-204R ferret missions in the
region with an emphasis on Japan.

In the rumor department (and as
noted earlier), both Australia and Singapore may operate such capabilities.
In reverse order, Singapore is said to
have acquired at least one SIGINT-configured C-130 during the 1990s, with
the required mission suite/s including
high and very high frequency (HF/
VHF, 3 to 30 MHz/30 to 300 MHz) band
collection arrays sourced from Israel.
Again, such aircraft are said to have
been used to monitor activity along
the coasts of Thailand and Malaysia
and around the Andaman and Nicobar
Islands in the Bay of Bengal.
As far as Australia is concerned,
Australian defense media sources
continue to maintain that Australia
has (or has had in the recent past) an
airborne SIGINT capability, an assertion that the Australian Government
neither confirms nor denies. In the
first instance, non-official Australian
sources have continued to report the
existence of a late 1990s program designated as Peace Mate that involved
the modification of a Royal Australian
Air Force (RAAF) C-130H transport
and a P-3C maritime patrol aircraft for
what seems to have been a COMINT collection mission. Of the two, the Peace
Mate C-130 is said to have been primed
by Australian contractor Tenix (subsequently absorbed into BAE Systems
Australia), while the program's P-3C is
described as having been an E-Systems
product that was capable of operating
on "the edge of a [target] nation's airspace" and of sucking-up "every form"
of HF, VHF and ultra high frequency
(UHF, 300 MHz to 3 GHz band) communications signals including "digital
mobile phone" networks.
While the existence of the Peace
Mate program may or may not be an
urban myth, subsequent investigation
and reporting does seem to suggest

that Australia does have some form of
airborne SIGINT capability vested in
its AP-3C surveillance aircraft fleet.
As suggested by its designation, the
AP-3C is a re-work of the RAAF's P-3C
maritime patrol aircraft that was undertaken by what is now L-3 Technologies in a program that was launched
during 1999. Amongst the re-worked
platforms, tail numbers A9-657 and
A9-660 may have been modified for
a SIGINT role, with photographs of
both aircraft from the 2014-2015 period showing them to have had the
AP-3C's standard sonobuoy provision
removed and replaced by a thimbleshaped radome together with a revised ventral antenna farm. Whether
or not this configuration represents a
dedicated SIGINT capability, reflects
a putative "carry-on" ELINT capability that is supposed to have been
developed for the type, or is part of
an upgrade to the AP-3C's standard
ALR-2001 electronic support system
remains unclear. That the described
configuraation might relate to a dedicated SIGINT capability may be given
some credence by unconfirmed (but
frequently reliable) Australian media
reports that suggests that post-2019
(when the P-8A will have replaced
the AP-3C in Australian service) the
RAAF intends to maintain four AP3Cs in a SIGINT role until circa 2023.
Hopefully, the foregoing will have
given JED's readership a flavor of the
sorts of manned airborne SIGINT activities that are being pursued by the
nations of the Pacific. While "crystal ball" gazing at this time is probably an even less profitable activity
than usual, it is not rocket science to
forecast that such provision can only
expand as the "unknowable unknowables" become more "unknowable,"
and the technology needed to "listen
in" becomes more accessible to more
potential users. Here, there can be no
doubt that unmanned aerial vehicles
will play an increasing role alongside
their manned counterparts. a


JED - February 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - February 2017

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
World Report
Asia-Pacific SIGINT Programs
Technology Survey: Analog-to-Digital Converters
Operator 101
EW 101
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick LookThe
JED - February 2017 - cover1
JED - February 2017 - cover2
JED - February 2017 - 3
JED - February 2017 - 4
JED - February 2017 - 5
JED - February 2017 - The View From Here
JED - February 2017 - 7
JED - February 2017 - Conferences Calendar
JED - February 2017 - 9
JED - February 2017 - Courses Calendar
JED - February 2017 - 11
JED - February 2017 - From the President
JED - February 2017 - 13
JED - February 2017 - 14
JED - February 2017 - The Monitor
JED - February 2017 - insert1
JED - February 2017 - insert2
JED - February 2017 - 16
JED - February 2017 - 17
JED - February 2017 - 18
JED - February 2017 - 19
JED - February 2017 - 20
JED - February 2017 - 21
JED - February 2017 - World Report
JED - February 2017 - 23
JED - February 2017 - Asia-Pacific SIGINT Programs
JED - February 2017 - 25
JED - February 2017 - 26
JED - February 2017 - 27
JED - February 2017 - 28
JED - February 2017 - 29
JED - February 2017 - 30
JED - February 2017 - 31
JED - February 2017 - Technology Survey: Analog-to-Digital Converters
JED - February 2017 - 33
JED - February 2017 - 34
JED - February 2017 - 35
JED - February 2017 - 36
JED - February 2017 - 37
JED - February 2017 - 38
JED - February 2017 - 39
JED - February 2017 - 40
JED - February 2017 - Operator 101
JED - February 2017 - 42
JED - February 2017 - 43
JED - February 2017 - EW 101
JED - February 2017 - 45
JED - February 2017 - AOC News
JED - February 2017 - 47
JED - February 2017 - 48
JED - February 2017 - Index of Advertisers
JED - February 2017 - JED Quick LookThe
JED - February 2017 - cover3
JED - February 2017 - cover4