JED - December 2017 - 28

AN APPROACH TO
UAV-BASED ELINT

T

By P. Michael Gale

The Journal of Electronic Defense | December 2017

28

The resurgence of more conventional
threat scenarios on top of the ongoing
asymmetric conflicts around the globe,
combined with the downing of the Malaysian Air flight by a BUK system has
started to capture the public's attention
to what was once one of the staples of
our community, the radar-guided surface-to-air missile (SAM) threat. The ongoing evolution of the SAM threat and
its capability to establish Anti-Access,
Area Denial (A2AD) bubbles in potentially contested locations around the
world has certainly brought into focus
the long-neglected Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) mission and the
means by which this can be achieved.
In preparing to plan on the suppression of the systems that make up an
integrated air defense (IAD) network
within the A2AD bubble, we are quickly
drawn to the conclusion that we will
need to mount a comprehensive ISR
mission that can establish and maintain
the electronic order of battle (EOB) and
disposition of the high-value sensors
and associated weapons systems.
The primary ISR mission will involve
effective deployment of signals intelligence (SIGINT) assets that can collect
both electronic intelligence (ELINT)
and communications (COMINT) on the
elements of IAD network. Historically
ELINT, especially of a strategic nature,
was the domain of manned platforms
and this remains the dominant solution
today. However, we have seen a growing
trend towards migrating the SIGINT mission to Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs).

ELINT SYSTEM
ARCHITECTURE APPROACH
The architecture and specification of
a UAS and its airborne platform, often
referred to as an unmanned aerial vehi-

cle (UAV), to be used for ELINT needs to
be arrived at through a careful process
of engaging with the users, operators
and all the stakeholders, combined with
input and guidance from subject matter
experts (SMEs) and engineers with many
years of real-world hands-on operational
ELINT system design experience.
The approach to the UAS ELINT architecture involves defining the needs
and imperatives, defining the Concept
of Operations (CONOPS), considering the
threat and the range of mission profiles
and scenarios.

USERS
Before discussing the CONOPS, a word
about the candidate users can provide
some context to the various approaches
that a SIGINT or an ELINT system architect might adopt, since it is often the
case that the users are international
(non-domestic) with different constraints, different perceptions of the
threat and unique use scenarios. It can
be the case that they are constrained
by budgets, with limited national intelligence infrastructure. Likely, the user
will approach the acquisition of the UAV
with a desire to maximize mission mix
for their UAV assets.

CONOPS
In constructing the CONOPS from
which will come the solution, it is important to lead the user through the thought
process. The first consideration in the
CONOPS is the deployment of the ELINT assets. Will it be used for tactical and strategic collection, or both? Strategic ELINT is
usually driven by national interest, which
may include establishment of the strategic EOB, an early warning or "tripwire"
mission with the ability to detect changes
in posture, as well as the more traditional

tasking of emitter parameter data collection to support a national emitter data
base (NEDB) and/or emitter parameter
library programming, in addition to scientific and technical collection. Tactical
ELINT is more about immediate threat location in support of SEAD, as well as the
detection of incursions or the presence of
a particular threat.
In the context of the strategic and
tactical ELINT missions, the A2AD bubble requires the user to think about
whether to operate the platform in the
stand-in or stand-off role. Operating as
a stand-off ELINT collector means the
UAV operates outside of the territorial
boarder or territorial waters. More importantly it operates beyond the lethality envelope or "enticement to launch
range" of the long-range SAM threats.
Stand-in operations offer a much
clearer picture in that we can say the
ELINT UAV collector will be within the
lethality envelope of the IAD network
making up A2AD environment and often
within the territorial boarder of the potential or actual adversary and definitely
within the radar coverage of the bubble.
Having defined the nature of these
missions, we can now establish a set of
user needs and expectations for the UAV
payload and associated mission systems.

THE THREAT ENVIRONMENT
Whether it is decided to operate
within the A2AD environment as a
stand-off or stand-in collector, it is
critical that consideration be given to
the potential adversarial threat environment. From an ELINT perspective,
it is necessary to understand what is
important both for the mission and the
survival of the UAV platform. This is
especially true because the IAD sensor
networks within the A2AD bubble have



JED - December 2017

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

The View From Here
Conferences Calendar
Courses Calendar
From the President
The Monitor
Washington Report
World Report
An Approach to UAV-Based ELINT
Combined EW and Cyber Event Illuminates Important Issues and Disconnects
Technology Survey: RF Tuners and Tuner Modules for SIGINT Applications
AOC EW Singapore 2018 Preview
Report from the 2017 AOC CEMA Conference
New Products
Recounting the History of the EW Working Group
EW 101
AOC 2017 Annual Award Winners
AOC News
Index of Advertisers
JED Quick Look
JED - December 2017 - intro
JED - December 2017 - cover1
JED - December 2017 - cover2
JED - December 2017 - 3
JED - December 2017 - 4
JED - December 2017 - 5
JED - December 2017 - The View From Here
JED - December 2017 - 7
JED - December 2017 - Conferences Calendar
JED - December 2017 - 9
JED - December 2017 - Courses Calendar
JED - December 2017 - 11
JED - December 2017 - From the President
JED - December 2017 - 13
JED - December 2017 - 14
JED - December 2017 - insert1
JED - December 2017 - insert2
JED - December 2017 - The Monitor
JED - December 2017 - 16
JED - December 2017 - 17
JED - December 2017 - 18
JED - December 2017 - 19
JED - December 2017 - 20
JED - December 2017 - 21
JED - December 2017 - 22
JED - December 2017 - 23
JED - December 2017 - Washington Report
JED - December 2017 - 25
JED - December 2017 - World Report
JED - December 2017 - 27
JED - December 2017 - An Approach to UAV-Based ELINT
JED - December 2017 - 29
JED - December 2017 - 30
JED - December 2017 - 31
JED - December 2017 - 32
JED - December 2017 - 33
JED - December 2017 - 34
JED - December 2017 - 35
JED - December 2017 - 36
JED - December 2017 - 37
JED - December 2017 - 38
JED - December 2017 - 39
JED - December 2017 - 40
JED - December 2017 - Combined EW and Cyber Event Illuminates Important Issues and Disconnects
JED - December 2017 - 42
JED - December 2017 - 43
JED - December 2017 - 44
JED - December 2017 - 45
JED - December 2017 - 46
JED - December 2017 - 47
JED - December 2017 - 48
JED - December 2017 - Technology Survey: RF Tuners and Tuner Modules for SIGINT Applications
JED - December 2017 - insert3
JED - December 2017 - insert4
JED - December 2017 - 50
JED - December 2017 - 51
JED - December 2017 - 52
JED - December 2017 - 53
JED - December 2017 - 54
JED - December 2017 - 55
JED - December 2017 - 56
JED - December 2017 - 57
JED - December 2017 - 58
JED - December 2017 - 59
JED - December 2017 - 60
JED - December 2017 - 61
JED - December 2017 - 62
JED - December 2017 - AOC EW Singapore 2018 Preview
JED - December 2017 - 64
JED - December 2017 - 65
JED - December 2017 - 66
JED - December 2017 - 67
JED - December 2017 - Report from the 2017 AOC CEMA Conference
JED - December 2017 - 69
JED - December 2017 - 70
JED - December 2017 - 71
JED - December 2017 - 72
JED - December 2017 - 73
JED - December 2017 - New Products
JED - December 2017 - 75
JED - December 2017 - 76
JED - December 2017 - Recounting the History of the EW Working Group
JED - December 2017 - 78
JED - December 2017 - 79
JED - December 2017 - 80
JED - December 2017 - EW 101
JED - December 2017 - 82
JED - December 2017 - 83
JED - December 2017 - 84
JED - December 2017 - AOC 2017 Annual Award Winners
JED - December 2017 - 86
JED - December 2017 - 87
JED - December 2017 - 88
JED - December 2017 - 89
JED - December 2017 - 90
JED - December 2017 - 91
JED - December 2017 - 92
JED - December 2017 - 93
JED - December 2017 - 94
JED - December 2017 - AOC News
JED - December 2017 - 96
JED - December 2017 - Index of Advertisers
JED - December 2017 - JED Quick Look
JED - December 2017 - cover3
JED - December 2017 - cover4
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