JED - March 2013 - 39

TECHNOLOGY SURVEY
A SAMPLING OF RADAR WARNING RECEIVERS AND ESM SYSTEMS
By Ollie Holt

with lower weight and lower installed sensitivity represent the typical RWR systems, while higher-weight
systems, with not as wide an instantaneous bandwidth, possibly more channels and higher sensitivity,
represent the ESM systems.
Wider instantaneous bandwidth systems typically
mean quicker response times but less installed sensitivity (i.e., they can’t “see” as far). Usually, the smaller
the instantaneous bandwidth is, the better the installed sensitivity in the system (i.e., it sees further,
but the response time will be longer). This is because
the system has to perform many more frequency steps
to cover the complete operational frequency range
then a receiver with a larger instantaneous bandwidth.
Adding more receiver channels, searching different
frequency ranges simultaneously, will reduce the response time, but not without increasing system cost,
weight and power. So the major trade-offs that need
to be addressed are: How quick a response time does
the platform need, how far does the platform need to
see to support countermeasures deployment, how much
SA is needed by the operator to complete the mission
and how much cost, weight and power can be allocated
to the EW system without impacting platform performance? All of these parameters, and more, need to be
addressed when determining what receiver capabilities
are required for the platform.
In our survey questionnaire, we asked for information about frequency range, sensitivity, dynamic
range and instantaneous bandwidth. We also asked if
the system supports direction finding, which is necessary for threat geolocation. Another important aspect,
which this survey did not have room to include, is information about the radar pulse parameters measured
and reported by the system. This information is useful in determining how well the system can perform
unique identification of the radar systems and aid in
determining threat intent. The more parameters that
can be measured and the accuracy of those measurements can improve the identification capability of the
ESM or RWR system. Typically the more information
that can be obtained through examination of the radar
pulse the better the ESM/RWR system can identify the
radar system. Correct identification of the threat radar
system, along with response time, is one of the most
important capabilities of an ESM or RWR system.
JED’s next survey, in May, will examine Signal Generators that can be used in testing and integration of
EW Systems.

The Journal of Electronic Defense | March 2013
The Journal of Electronic Defense | March 2013

T

his month’s technology survey examines
radar warning receivers (RWRs) and radar
electronic support measures (ESM) systems.
These systems are designed to detect radar
signals, identify the emitter and warn of
possible danger. These systems also cue
countermeasures systems.
Before we get into the survey details, let’s expand
on some of the differences between RWRs and ESM systems and electronic intelligence (ELINT) receivers. The
major difference between an RWR/ESM receiver and
ELINT receiver is that a RWR/ESM receiver needs to
quickly scan the frequency range and spatial environment to detect threats and protect the host platform,
while an ELINT receiver can slowly scan or stare at a
frequency or spatial region and collect information for
further analysis.
The major differences between an RWR and an ESM
system relate to performance and capabilities. RWRs
are used to provide warning about tracking radars and
to cue countermeasure employment, such as an onboard
jammer, towed RF decoys or chaff. RWRs are usually
smaller, less expensive and provide less performance
then an ESM system. An RWR typically only looks in
the frequency ranges where tracking radar emissions
may exist and usually features sensitivity performance
good enough to detect the tracking radar emissions at
something more then the lethal missile range.
An ESM system expands some on RWR functionality by adding better emitter identification (including specific emitter ID) and geolocating the emitters.
With these capabilities, ESM systems can create a more
comprehensive situational awareness (SA) picture for
the operator along with providing support for countermeasures employment. The ESM receiver is typically an
RWR on steroids.
An ESM system typically scans a wider frequency
range to detect a broader range of radars in an integrated air defense or shore defense network. For example, an ESM system will typically operate down to
0.5 GHz in order to detect early warning radars or target acquisition radars. ESM systems typically provide
greater detection range and more precise location information in support of SA. Because of the higher performance of ESM systems, they are usually larger and
more complex than an RWR.
As you review the survey data, you will see a rather
large variation of systems and technologies. You will
notice the wide instantaneous bandwidth receivers

39


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JED - March 2013

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of JED - March 2013

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
Enabling Global Strike: EW Updates to the USAF’s Bomber Fleet
Technology Survey
EW 101
AOC News
2013 AOC Industry Member Guide
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - March 2013 - cover1
JED - March 2013 - cover2
JED - March 2013 - 3
JED - March 2013 - 4
JED - March 2013 - 5
JED - March 2013 - The View From Here
JED - March 2013 - 7
JED - March 2013 - Conferences Calendar
JED - March 2013 - 9
JED - March 2013 - Courses Calendar
JED - March 2013 - 11
JED - March 2013 - From the President
JED - March 2013 - 13
JED - March 2013 - 14
JED - March 2013 - The Monitor
JED - March 2013 - 16
JED - March 2013 - 17
JED - March 2013 - 18
JED - March 2013 - 19
JED - March 2013 - 20
JED - March 2013 - 21
JED - March 2013 - 22
JED - March 2013 - 23
JED - March 2013 - Washington Report
JED - March 2013 - 25
JED - March 2013 - World Report
JED - March 2013 - 27
JED - March 2013 - Enabling Global Strike: EW Updates to the USAF’s Bomber Fleet
JED - March 2013 - 29
JED - March 2013 - 30
JED - March 2013 - 31
JED - March 2013 - 32
JED - March 2013 - 33
JED - March 2013 - 34
JED - March 2013 - 35
JED - March 2013 - 36
JED - March 2013 - 37
JED - March 2013 - 38
JED - March 2013 - Technology Survey
JED - March 2013 - 40
JED - March 2013 - 41
JED - March 2013 - 42
JED - March 2013 - 43
JED - March 2013 - 44
JED - March 2013 - 45
JED - March 2013 - 46
JED - March 2013 - 47
JED - March 2013 - EW 101
JED - March 2013 - 49
JED - March 2013 - AOC News
JED - March 2013 - 51
JED - March 2013 - 52
JED - March 2013 - 2013 AOC Industry Member Guide
JED - March 2013 - 54
JED - March 2013 - 55
JED - March 2013 - 56
JED - March 2013 - 57
JED - March 2013 - 58
JED - March 2013 - 59
JED - March 2013 - 60
JED - March 2013 - 61
JED - March 2013 - 62
JED - March 2013 - 63
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JED - March 2013 - 65
JED - March 2013 - 66
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JED - March 2013 - 74
JED - March 2013 - 75
JED - March 2013 - 76
JED - March 2013 - 77
JED - March 2013 - 78
JED - March 2013 - 79
JED - March 2013 - Index of Advertisers
JED - March 2013 - 81
JED - March 2013 - JED Quick Look
JED - March 2013 - cover3
JED - March 2013 - cover4
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